Young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, which threatens the very people they are trying to protect. But war is simple compared to what follows, in peacetime. Meliara is summoned to live at the royal palace, where friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms.
If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting -- with wits and words and secret alliances. In war, at least, she knew in whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one.
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"Smith tells a fast-moving tale of adventure, intrigue, and honor, with Mel a likable heroine and a lively narrator." -- Booklist
A girl in Remalna traditionally spends her Flower Day being feted, dancing with friends, and celebrating her passage to womanhood. Countess Meliara spends hers on the front lines of a war. She and her brother promised their dying father to free Remalna from the oppressive rule of Greedy Galdran and to preserve the vital Covenant with Remalna's aloof, unhuman Hill People. Courageous, stubborn Meliara, honorable and sharp-tongued, is determined to win or die fighting, and her hardships, uneasy alliances, and fondness for daring (foolhardy) tactics make anxious, unstoppable reading.