Fifteen years have passed since Sterile was called into the world. Galtic men and Khaite women are still suffering the price for Maati Vaupathai’s failed binding; his shame and misguided optimism has left him roaming the countryside to hide from Otah, the third Emperor of the Khaiem. Maati’s wanderings are filled with fantasies that are fueled by a bitter hatred and jealousy of his one-time friend and now enemy. In his imagination, Otah is apologetic and debased before the superiority of Maati’s genius—in his daydreams, he has successfully bound an andat that will correct his earlier mistake and bring him back in favor with the man and the world. It’s a mistake that has developed as a slow decay threatening to overwhelm Otah with old rivalries rather than encourage any sense of cooperation. Even Eiah, Otah’s only daughter, has left in disgust of her father’s plan to save both Galt and his Empire: bring in Galtic women for the men of the Khaiem in this new currency of fertility, leaving generations of Khaite women feeling worthless and without cause.
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