Third book in the Rogues of the Republic series.
With the Glimmering Folk defeated and the Republic at peace with the Empire, it seems like the world might finally get a chance to settle down for a while. But the ancients, the ones created most of the existing races, have decided that this is the perfect time to come back and reestablish their dominion over the world.
Loch and her friends fight hard to keep them out, but fail. A portal to the world of the ancients is opened, and countless immortals come pouring through, ready to enslave everyone in their path. All that stands against them is a small group of rogues who can barely agree on what direction the sun is coming up.
And they've been named enemies of the state. Again.
This novel provides examples of:
- Brick Joke: Princess Veiled Lightning tells General Jade Blossom that they don't know what Loch's crazy plan is yet, so when the time comes, they should just hit whatever Loch is hitting. In the climax, when Loch is fighting an enslaved Veil, Jade tackles Veil and saves Loch's life.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Before the ancients return, Kail mentions that if they succeed, everyone will end up enslaved to talking swords. Loch and Ethel look at him like he's an idiot and tell him that of course the ancients had bodies; they were people, just like any other. Turns out Kail was right; the ancients are pure magic and disembodied souls, who need to inhabit crystals that they can then use to enslave anyone who touches them.
- Engineered Public Confession: Kail frees the puppeteers from their paladin bands just in time to broadcast the ancients gloating about their plans to Loch. The ancients quickly think up a way to spin the story, but they are defeated before they have a chance.
- Ethical Slut: Kail's mom is absolutely shameless about enjoying sex. Several people point out that this is an obvious sore spot for him, and the source of his I Banged Your Mom insults.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Mr Lively says that the ancients are just people, same as any others. Which means they have priests... including death priests.
- The Mole:
- Ghylspwr. Loch managed to turn him at the end of the previous book, and he joined the ancients to encourage them to take the least-violent approach. When Loch is fighting six paladins at once, he leaps into her hands to help.
- Jyelle, or at least the daemon that was corrupted with her hatred. Ululenia managed to talk her into coming to peace with herself, and Jyelle pretended to join the ancients and fight Loch.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The ancients are shockingly racist even by the standards of the Republic, which can be pretty damn racist on its own. As far as they are concerned, elves, dwarves, and Urujar are nothing but animals designed to craft, mine, and grow food. Fairies are wild animals that can be tamed but are usually just slaughtered, and white people are favored hosts but nothing more. They're also cruelly pragmatic about gender, dismissing female hosts since they're seen as weak by too many people, and therefore not worth taking control of. However, only the most desperate and cruel of the ancients passed through the gate. The ones who remained behind in their world refused to go along with the plan when they found out about it, and allowed Loch to leave in peace.