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CONQUEROR’S BLOOD

One year passes after the events of Gunmetal Gods. Kevah is fasting and meditating in Zelthuriya, but is unable to make progress toward fanaa, the mystical annihilation of the self that will help grant him the power to utilize his three masks and command the following jinn tribes:

  • The Marid tribe who control ice, led by the Sultana MARADA
  • The Efreet tribe who control fire, led by the Sultan EBLAS
  • The Jann tribe who control wind, led by an unknown sultan

A half-day’s ride south, in the glorious city of Qandbajar, Seat of the Seluqal Kingdom of Alanya, the machinations of Hawwa the Dreamer and her followers stir a new conflict.

A scheming angel named MAROT, revered as one of the Twelve Great Angels by Ethosians, resurrects ZEDRA, an ancient and powerful blood sorceress, in the body of NORA, an innocent young woman whom Marot saved from death at the hands of raiders.

Marot tricks Zedra by making her believe that he is CHISTI, the holy man revered by all Latians as the founder of their faith. He tasks Zedra with bringing back an ancient tribe known as the Children, who descended from Chisti but were annihilated when the current dynastic rulers of Sirm, Alanya, and Kashan — the Seluqal House — conquered the western half of the continent. This event finalized a split in the Latian religion into two sects: the Path of the Children, who still revere the now long-gone tribe, and the Path of the Saints, who compose the majority of Latians and revere various holy men and women throughout history instead of the Children.

Zedra is also descended from the Children, though Nora is not, and thanks to Marot’s tricks, she does not realize that she’s been brought back in a different body to her original one.

To advance his scheme, Marot impregnates Zedra and sends her into the harem of Kyars, the Crown Prince of Alanya. Kyars, having copulated with Zedra many times, believes the child to be his own, and thus names him as his successor in the line to the throne. Zedra, believing the child to be Chisti’s son, will do everything to ensure he takes the throne, as this will fulfill her aim to bring back the dynasty of the Children.

Meanwhile, a woman named CYRA is up to her own schemes. By leveraging the power of her ascendent Sylgiz tribe, she convinces TAMAZ, the Shah of Alanya, to marry her to Crown Prince Kyars, thus making her Sultana of Sultanas, one of the most powerful women in Alanya.

Desiring this position for herself and fearing that Cyra’s ambitions will hinder her plans, Zedra enacts a bloodwriting spell to take over Cyra’s body. She then uses Cyra’s hands to stab Shah Tamaz to death, while the eyes of everyone watch. To her mind, this means that Kyars will become Shah, and being the mother of his only son, she will become the most powerful woman in Alanya and be better placed to direct affairs toward her goal of ensuring her infant son becomes the next Shah.

Cyra barely manages to regain her body and flee Qandbajar with the help of another blood sorcerer named ESHE, who is trying to figure out who or what is behind the vile plot ensnaring Alanya. On the back of a camel, he takes Cyra to Zelthuriya to meet with Kevah, whom he places much hope in.

Kevah, bored of sitting around in a dusty shrine for an entire year, is moved by Cyra’s story and agrees to help her clear her name and expose the true evil. However, the Disciples of Chisti, the Latian order who guard Zelthuriya, refuse to aid her, especially after one of their sheikhas, a young bloodrune-covered woman named RUHI, convinces them that Cyra is a liar and a sinner. Despite their rejection, Cyra, Kevah, and Eshe travel to Qandbajar to uncover the menace.

During the journey, Marada, Sultana of the Marid, appears in the sky and submits to Kevah — despite his lack of fanaa — giving him the power to command the ice jinn. At the same time, the angel Marot lures Cyra into the mysterious and much-feared Palace of Bones, where she is granted the power of starwriting magic, just like Aschere, with the help of a new black-on-black eye that lets her see stars up close.

Zedra, meanwhile, enlists the aid of two unlikely allies: the Crucian princess Celene, who escaped Sirm but was captured by slavers, and the resurrected Sirmian princess Sadie, who is trying to live a carefree life and has come to Qandbajar for an archery tournament. They don’t realize Zedra was behind the plot to murder Shah Tamaz, and are won over by her charming demeanor and her claims that she wants to avenge Tamaz and uncover the evildoers causing havoc in the kingdom.

But now Marot is using both Zedra and Cyra to enact his mysterious scheme, and so leads them into greater and greater conflict.

At the same time, Tamaz’s brother, MANSUR, arrives in Qandbajar to claim the throne. Kyars beheads him, causing much bad blood between him and Mansur’s children.

Zedra convinces KATO, the commander of the Alanyan gholam slave soldiers, that Cyra is the devious schemer behind the plot to bring chaos to Alanya. She also convinces Kyars of the same, despite that Cyra is his wife by law.

But she fails to enlist the aid of the Philosophers, a mighty group of scholars who reverse-engineered Micah the Metal’s fast-firing guns, and who seem to have their own agenda. For completely mysterious reasons, the Philosophers kidnap Eshe and force him to copy down a book called The Melody of Flowers. Soon after, they release Eshe and suddenly disappear from their tower, nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Cyra convinces the khagan of the powerful Jotrid tribe to aid her — a childhood friend of hers named PASHANG. Pashang has had visions about her ever since he encountered Marot in the Deep Waste, many years ago, and so eagerly helps her.

Cyra and Zedra’s respective sides collide during a battle between the Jotrids and gholam in the desert. Kato and his gholam defeat Pashang and his Jotrids, while the angel Marot himself defeats the jinn sultana Marada, leaving Kevah powerless. All seems lost until the Goddess Lat, protector of the land, appears in the sky and destroys Marot with a scepter that emits a scathing aurora of light.

Though Marot is dead, the gholam are closing in on Cyra and are about to kill her. So Cyra uses her starwriting powers to summon Hawwa’s hand from the Blood Star. Hawwa’s hand crushes Lat — the god of all Latians — then uses Lat’s blood to enact a blood sorcery spell. This spell makes all the gholam explode into a lake of blood, and begins a curse known as the blood plague, which will over many decades cause all the water and living tissue in the kingdom to turn into blood.

Cyra wins, though by summoning the blood plague and murdering Lat, it is Marot and ultimately Hawwa the Dreamer who have truly won, since Lat was protecting the land from Hawwa.

Cyra kills Zedra by expelling her from Nora’s body — though Nora still retains Zedra’s magical powers. Fortunately for Cyra, the innocent girl doesn’t know how to use them. Cyra imprisons her in the palace along with her infant son, who is the literal child of Marot and carries special blood known as god’s blood, which could come in handy.

Cyra conquers Qandbajar, and seats herself and Pashang on the throne, uniting their tribes in marriage. She also summons her own Sylgiz tribe to join in her new confederation to rule Alanya, even agreeing to share power with her cruel cousin GOKBERK — whom she despises — since she needs the manpower.

But despite defeating Zedra, her enemy has left a strong impression on her, and so have the Dreamer and Marot.

To distinguish her own rule from that of the Seluqal House, Cyra declares that the Path of the Children will now be the only sect permitted in Alanya, forbidding the Path of the Saints followed by a majority of the people. A Philosopher and scholar named WAFIQ, who claims to have memorized all the sayings of the Children, becomes the religious leader of her new Alanya.

Though Celene served Zedra, she is convinced that Marot — one of the Twelve Angels revered in her faith — wants her to now serve Cyra, and so eagerly becomes Cyra’s pawn while denying that Marot is dead.

Eshe is disgusted by how Cyra summoned Hawwa’s hand and brought a blood plague to Alanya. He devotes his time to curing the blood plague, but wants nothing to do with Cyra, despite having strong romantic feelings for her.

Cyra, who reciprocates those feelings, is heartbroken, but accepts it, since she is now married to Pashang anyway.

Kevah realizes he made a terrible mistake by supporting Cyra. He aligns with Kyars and Sadie to form a resistance against Cyra’s new order.