With his ship crippled and his crew dead, Jarl Hawkins fights for survival in space as his dying spaceship, the Cassiopeia, drifts out of control. But there is nothing he can do, and his own death is certain.
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Oddly enough, rescue comes in the form of an old wizard named Kvasir, who offers Jarl his chance at a new life on Vanir, a planet unlike anything Jarl has ever encountered. There, the King fights his rivals for control of his kingdom, wild nomads roam the northern Ghost Plains, wizards and witches use magic, and an all-powerful church viciously suppresses independent thought through prison, torture, and fire.
Once on Vanir, Jarl befriends the Kettlewand Rangers and is drawn into a war that he doesn’t truly understand. Separated from Kvasir, he patrols with the Rangers, witnesses the murder of a Ghost Raider, and travels to Tyr, the capital city, to locate Kvasir or another wizard. But he instead finds himself on the wrong side of the Church, and his modern weapons are taken from him and he is imprisoned for being a sorcerer. Once inside the prison, however, he finds a friend and protector, a samurai-like warrior. After a pardon from the king himself, Jarl and his new friend returns to Tyr and makes a startling—and dangerous—discovery: a translated Vanir bible.
Determined to break the church’s hold on the citizens, Jarl begins to print the bible, infuriating the church leaders. His time on Vanir becomes even more dangerous, and it is only with the King’s protection that he and his printing company can survive. But Kvasir is still missing, and without the help of the old wizard, Jarl is powerless to make his way back into space.