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WARNING: Late Arrival Spoilers abound for previous books in The Heartstrikers.

"Assassination attempts aren't a threat. They're a compliment. They're the final strike, the last desperate move when every other plot has failed. When they try to kill you, that's when you know you're winning."
Ian Heartstriker

After Julius managed to depose his mother Bethesda in a non-lethal coup in the previous book, the clan is in turmoil. Hundreds of dragons who have never known anything but rule by the strong are now faced with the prospect of peace and equality. And they don't like it. Julius is threatened by a dozen different assassins, all trying to end this ridiculous "democracy" nonsense before it can take root.

Meanwhile, Marci has her own problems. After agreeing to hold onto half of Amelia's fire, she finds herself having to balance the fire, her Mortal Spirit, and visits from UN dignitaries who are willing to do absolutely anything to get her on their side.

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And beyond it all, the Lady of the Lakes has still declared war on all dragons, and is preparing her final strike.

This book provides examples of:

  • Batman Gambit: At the end of the book, Bob drops the silly act and demands that Julius not free Chelsie. It fails, and Julius does it anyway. Bob tells Amelia that he needed a tool that even he couldn't break.
  • Blackmail: How Bethesda has controlled Chelsie for the past six hundred years. Chelsie's blood oath only prevents her from killing Bethesda; she obeys because she knows Bethesda will not hesitate to use the secret of what happened in China at a moment's notice. Bob says the secret isn't particularly important any more, but he lets Chelsie keep thinking it is because she's the only thing holding the clan together.
  • Broken Pedestal: Marci has always admired Sir Myron, one of the first human mages. When she meets him, she discovers that he's an arrogant, small-minded man who seethes with jealously that someone else bonded a Mortal Spirit before him, and refuses to acknowledge the positive aspects of a death spirit.
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  • Didn't See That Coming: Svena knows for a fact that she is the only pregnant dragon at the moment, which means that the next seer will be born as one of her daughters. Bob uses the last of Amelia's fire to hatch Chelsie's egg—which was a dud that Chelsie has been feeding magic for six hundred years in the vain hope that it would hatch one day—and spirits away his new niece before Svena has a chance to lay her clutch.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Julius does the math and realizes that it is extremely unlikely that Bethesda laid F-clutch when she said she did, since she was in China for most of that time. She couldn't have been pregnant when she flew over there, and if she had gotten pregnant when she was there, they never would have let her leave. It's very strongly implied that F-clutch is actually Chelsie's, and the father is the Golden Emperor.
  • Hypocrite: Several of the older dragons, Bethesda most obviously, insist on the strong ruling over the weak, and that anything is justified to claw your way to the top. But when they lose, they say that doesn't count and still fight madly to regain their lost power. Conrad eventually turns on Bethesda because of this.
  • Shared Unusual Trait:
    • Dragons typically receive their eye color from their father, which is why it is so strange that every single Heartstriker has their mother's green eyes. Turns out it's a spell that Bethesda casts on her children while they are still eggs. It lets her tell when they are lying.
    • Chelsie's daughter that Bob hatches, along with all of F-clutch, all have gold eyes, a very rare color among dragons.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Amelia lets Bob kill her so that he can use her fire to hatch Chelsie's egg, making sure the next seer is a Heartstriker. Bob implies that this was only necessary because Julius insisted on freeing Chelsie from her duties, but it's hard to know for sure.
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