Thousands of years before the Age of Elminster, dragons rule the skies of Faern, and elves dominate the huge forests that cover the land. Only in the mighty, magical empire of Netheril are men a force to be reckoned with. Bored and haughty in his midair castle, the Netherese mage Candlemas bets fellow wizard Sysquemalyn that a certain barbarian who has caught his eye can survive the most savage tests his friend - and deadly rival - can devise. The only rule: The tests must offer the subject some slight chance to survive.
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Netheril, empire of magic, where wizards wield power far beyond the ken of mortal men...Netheril, where citadels float, magic runs wild, and mages dabble in games better left for the gods...Netheril, a place of dangerous games where the barbarian Sunbright Steelshanks soon finds himself an unwilling pawn in a lethal match of wits, wiles, and powers.
The Netherese Empire will collapse in five generations. A forgotten foe, armed with a hell-spawned source of destructive magic, returns to seek her revenge, and a lost love is found in a most unexpected place. Against a backdrop of war and chaos, the barbarian Sunbright struggles to carve out a niche for himself - and his people - in a rapidly changing world.