For two thousand years, the serpents of Salmut and their riders have kept the people of Saranthium safe – but the pact between human and serpent is failing. Rogue serpents are attacking villages, and rumours abound that the banished god of the serpents, Azoth, has returned to resurrect his empire of slavery.
Orphan, thief and survivor Shaan works in the serpent yards of Salmut and wakes from dreams of blood and death. The surprising discovery that she can speak with Nuathin, the oldest serpent of the yards, brings her to the attention of sept leader, Balkis. Handsome, arrogant and seductive, Balkis is also a man with powerful and dangerous alliances and Shaan becomes the target of the city's most feared arms men: The Faithful.
Meanwhile in the deserts, a young man named Tallis defends his clan against rogue serpents, driving them off with supernatural force. When he faces becoming an outcast because of his power, the truth of his birth is revealed and he embarks on a journey to understand the strength locked within his mind.
Drawn together, Shaan and Tallis become ensnared in the resurrection of an ancient conflict, but on whose side will they stand – that of the serpents or the people?