As she flees across Esbana for a port to the New World, Miriam finds being the matriarch of her people, the magical Diaphani, almost as difficult as being hunted by the Inquisition. Her deepening relationship with Joachin, patriarch and thief, is marred by the sudden return of Alonso, her ghostly lover, whom she thought lost forever. In this alternate historical epic, Miriam's world expands to the larger realms of Esbana, the Papacy, and Inglais, where one spy in particular seeks tattoo magic to set a new queen upon the throne. Grand Inquisitor Tomas and other old rivals seek their vengeance against Miriam, while new ones fight to usurp her place. As she broadens her understanding of magical power, Miriam learns what it is to lead, to love, to forgive, and to change, for change she must, if she and her Tribe are to reach the New World.