The Imperial Order continues to bring an undesired war upon the New World. Its mission: to enslave the world in a system in which no human being can aspire to anything more than mediocrity. Meanwhile, Richard, Cara and Kahlan return to Westland. Richard believes that if he leads the armies of the New World directly into a confrontation with the armies of the Imperial Order, he would lose the battle and the New World will fall prey to the grasp of death and slavery.
Kahlan is nursed back to health after a brutal beating she received at the hands of brutes at the end of the last book, Soul of the Fire. Just as she achieves her recovery, Nicci, a long time slave of Jagang and the Imperial Order, arrives to take Richard away. She links herself through a "maternity spell" to Kahlan, forcing Richard to choose Kahlan's death or his departure from her. Richard chooses Kahlan's life above his own and leaves with Nicci.
Kahlan and Cara pack their things and decide to return to the D'Haran armies. There they too, will battle with the Imperial Order.