Before Darrow, Calwyn knew only the world inside the wall of ice, the valley of Antaris, where priestesses sing enchantments that keep their protecting wall strong and without flaws. But all that changes when she sees a strange man, an Outlander from beyond the wall, lying on the path by the section of the wall that is her responsibility. At first she thinks he is dead, but soon finds out that not only is he alive, although badly injured, but he is also able to sing enchantments, just as she is, even though his low, growling voice is very different from her high, clear one.

In the beginning of the world, the Ancient Ones knew all of the Nine Powers, and controlled an incredible amount of knowledge, and were able to do many amazing things. But when the world was divided into the Nine Peoples, the powers were divided among them, so that no one person could possess them all. And these are the Nine Powers: Ninth, the Power of Tongue, over all speech, language or song; Eighth, the Power of Beasts, over all animals who run, fly, creep or crawl; Seventh, the Power of Seeming, over making the real invisible, and illusion reality; Sixth, the Power of Winds, over wind, waves and weather; Fifth, the Power of Iron, over all non-living objects that belong to the earth; Fourth, the Power of Becoming, over quickening, growth and change; Third, the Power of Fire, over all that is light and all that is hot; Second, the Power of Ice, over all that is dark, all that is cold, and all that is death. And then the First, the Power of the Goddess herself.

What will happen to Darrow and Calwyn as they begin their journey? Will they be able to stop Samis, or will their journey turn dark, dangerous, and sinister as they try and try, only to fail again and again?