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The third book of the Emberverse Series. It recounts events between December 2007 and September 2008. It brings the first generation of post-Change residents of Oregon to a crossroads.
In Portland, Oregon, Norman Arminger summons an unarmed Jabar Jones, Baron Molalla. The Protector berates Jones for allowing his daughter Mathilda to be captured by the Mackenzies the previous May during a raid into the Portland Protective Association territory. Jabar explains and a mollified Lord Protector returns his weapons. Arminger appoints Emiliano Gutierrez, Baron Dayton, as Marchwarden of the South, replacing Eddie Liu, Baron Gervais, who died attempting Mathilda's rescue, incidentally almost killing Rudi, Juniper Mackenzie's son. Arminger orders Dayton are to keep the Bearkillers and Mackenzies on their side of the border. Arminger takes the Barony of Gervais under personal control until the heir comes of age, but allows the dowager baroness, Lady Mary Liu, to appoint her own garrison commander.
On December 12 in Portland, Norman Arminger meets two people from Corvallis, Master Turner and Agnes Kowalski. Arminger introduces them to Sandra, Conrad Renfrew, and Father McKinley. Arminger impresses his visitors by serving them coffee from Hawaii. He tries to convince the two merchants that Corvallis would be best served by becoming a part of the Portland Protective Association as a self-governing Free City.
On December 12, Rudi Mackenzie and Mathilda Arminger practise archery with Chuck Barstow. They return to the main cabin, where Mathilda is greeted with frowns by some. During supper, Juniper Mackenzie senses the continuing resentment toward Mathilda; she stands and lays a geas -a compulsion- on the clan, using her powers as High Priestess and Chief of Clan Mackenzie; binding all present to treat Mathilda as a member of her family. Juniper later discusses the practical aspects of having Mathilda under her supervision with Bearkillers Eric and Luanne and concludes that the Lord Protector will attack Clan Mackenzie to get his daughter back sooner rather than later, though even if his army is defeated, the feudal nature of the PPA and the castellated territory will make it impossible to hold his lands. (Chap 1)
On December 15, Nigel Loring is recovering from the injuries he sustained saving the life of Juniper's son Rudi. He talks with Dennis Martin as Juniper coaches a group of children in their Rite of Passage- choosing a totem animal and joining a Sept. Dennis tells him about the early days of the clan, when he deliberately annoyed Juniper by starting the fashion for kilts and referring to her as 'Lady' or 'Chief'. Nigel realizes that he is becoming attracted to Juniper. (Chap 2)
On December 12, Mike Havel conducts a training exercise of pike infantry defending against mounted A-Listers, granting victory to the infantry that day. On the way back to the fortified Larsdalen, he and Signe discuss the progress they have made with their defences. They discuss Signe's sister Astrid and her interest in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and her ability to use those writings to adapt to the conditions following the Change. (Chap 2)
On December 17, Eilir Mackenzie, Astrid Larsson, John Hordle, Alleyne Loring, and ten Dúnedain Rangers are preparing the Rangers' Yule log in Mithrilwood when they become aware that they are being watched. More than twenty bandits enter their ambush. They kill several and the rest retreat. While the Rangers recover the bandits return, running. The Rangers kill a few more and the pursuers show. They are a patrol from Mount Angel Abbey, led by Father Andrew of the Order of the Shield of Saint Benedict. The bandits are all killed or captured, the Rangers and monks find that the leader is a PPA knight in service to Gervais. The knight identifies himself as a brother of Mary Liu. Astrid keeps the knight for ransom and proof of PPA involvement in raids. She orders the remaining bandits killed and offers the monks an overnight stay. (Chap 4)
On January 10, Mike Havel, Signe, their twin daughters Mary and Ritva, and brother-in-Law Eric and his wife Luanne arrive in Corvallis. They are greeted by Major Peter Jones and discuss the Corvallis defences and Ken Larsson's new rapid-fire crossbow, which Mike implies does not yet work. They stay at the Bearkiller 'Embassy', run by Hugo Zeppelt.
Hugo reveals that someone in Corvallis is putting money around in the PPA's favour. Signe adds that her sources put Turner and Kowalski at the PPA and having high level meetings. Mike tells Peter he wants to attend the Corvallis Senate to propose a formal alliance should the PPA attack. Mike also wants Corvallis to agree that the Rangers can pursue across everybody's borders to clear bandits from the Willamette. As a sweetener, Peter suggests allowing Corvallis to renew the railroad running up the Willamette, but Mike refuses to give the PPA such an easy solution to their logistics problems.
January 11th, Juniper is visiting Luther Finney's farm and discussing the changes he made with his son Edward Finney. Edward tells her Luther dropped dead, harvesting his land, on the hottest day of the year; a long-standing joke of his father since he served in Korea. Juniper says Someone is always listening. Mathilda and Rudi discuss their guards; Mathilda finds it slightly alarming that the two girls are in love with each other. (Chap 5)
March 4th.Mike Havel, Lord Bear, is at Larsdalen. A messenger from Astrid Larsson of the Dúnedain Rangers arrives. Two thousand, five hundred troops of the Portland Protective Association in three columns have crossed the border and entered the Waldo Hills area southeast of Salem, Oregon. A waterborne force is rowing up the Willamette River, and a fifth force has laid seige to Mount Angel. Astrid adds that her Rangers are attempting to delay the PPA forces. Mike sends Will Hutton with a detachment to screen his northern border. He orders the remainder of the A-List and the militia 'Field Force' to rally west of Salem to head off the main PPA thrust up the Willamette river. Ken Larsson is ordered to take his heavy assault weapons by rail to defend the Salem bridges. Pam is to take an infantry detachment to guard him. Visitor Peter Jones of the Corvallis City State returns to defend his city. (Chap 9)
March 5th. Samuel Aylward receives his message while plowing near Dun Fairfax. Sam passes the message to Juniper Mackenzie with his recommendation that the First Levy of Clan Mackenzie be called out to rally near Sutterdown. (Chap 9)
The Waldo Hills — The Dúnedain
On March 5, the Dúnedain Rangers, led by Astrid Larsson and Alleyne Loring ambush a PPA wagon train escorted by crossbowmen and by Pendleton Round-Up light cavalry at a sabotaged bridge. They successfully burn the cargo -a prefabricated fort- and drive off the enemy forces. 
The Waldo Hills — The Mackenzies
Piotr Stavarov is tasked with moving a column of two hundred bicycle infantry (crossbows and spears) and one hundred knight lancers with men-at-arms from the Waldo Hills across the Santiam River by nightfall on March 5. En route, he encounters what he judges to be a holding force of fifty archers and fifty spears and Lochaber axes of Clan Mackenzie. Piotr decides he can force the blockade. While his crossbowmen engage the Mackenzie archers, he sends his spears against the Mackenzie spearmen. As the attack goes in, one hundred more Mackenzie bows engage the Protectorate spears. Thinking he has now pinned and revealed the whole Mackenzie force, Piotr charges the new archers with all one hundred heavy lancers. Juniper Mackenzie reveals an additional seven hundred archers, who decimate the mounted force. Piotr is wounded in the attack. He tries to put the best light on his actions by telling Conrad Renfrew that he has driven off the enemy. Renfrew responds, "Give me back my knights!" (Chap 11)
Juniper and her First Levy are joined by Sam Aylward and a CORA leader, John Brown, with over four hundred light cavalry when the messenger from Dun Juniper reaches her. (Chap 13)
West Salem — The Bearkillers
Mike Havel's pike and crossbow meet Eric Larsson's cavalry and Ken Larsson's field artillery west of the Willamette and Salem, with suburban ruins behind them. The Protector's forces land north of them, while armoured boats slowly paddle upstream to the rail and road bridges.
Mike quickly determines that he faces pike, crossbow, cavalry and light siege artillery, in greater numbers, led by Alexi Stavarov, Baron Chehalis. Mike deploys his troops from soft ground on the right, placing his cavalry and artillery on the left below Chapman Hill. His westernmost infantry help dig the artillery in.
One knight advances in challenge, and Mike takes him on, beating him handily; it is a superb morale booster for his troops and an equally bad one for Stavarov's.
Mike then orders his catapults to open fire on the enemy cavalry; they retreat out of range, and Stavarov moves his clumsier artillery forward in response. Mike orders his horse archers forward to take on the artillery crew and handlers with a firing circle. Alexi, to protect them, sends spearmen forward with shields, whereupon Mike withdraws the cavalry, leaving Stavarov's artillery and spearmen wide open to his artillery which reloads faster and shoots harder than Alexi's. Some shots are home-made napalm, and Alexi's artillery is soon burning.
Alexi loses patience and sends cavalry forward. Mike has practised his pikes against lancers, though...
At the railway bridge Ken Larssen's heavy weapons open fire on the lead turtle boats with jars of napalm. As the boats close in, Ken switches to armour-piercing javelins and flamethrowers and drives them away. (Chap 12)
Sutterdown — The Mackenzies
March 5th, and Colin Renfrew, Baron Odell, is a mile north of the town of Sutterdown, with 2000 men, discussing how to take the town. Three sides of the town are river, and the north side has a moat. All gates are protected by gatehouses, and turrets house Larsson hydraulic catapults capable of throwing a quarter mile. Renfrew's dilemma is that he does not have enough troops to control the occupied duns, lay siege to Sutterdown, and protect sixty miles of road behind him. His scouts report empty duns and many trails of cattle, sheep and men leading up into the hills, but he does not know how many Mackenzies there are. He does know that eight hundred defeated Piotr, and they could be anywhere. He makes it clear he is not happy with the PPA war strategy. (Chap 13)
Dun Juniper — Rutherton's Raid
March 5th, and Epona is getting restless at Dun Juniper. Rudi Mackenzie asks permission to take her out for a ride, and Dennis Martin agrees. Rudi rides out with Mathilda Arminger and their escorts. Rudi and Epona race with Mathilda. Mathilda's horse gallops along the road into the forest, Rudi following on Epona. Mathilda runs straight into a trip rope, and she is thrown. Epona avoids the rope but Rudi is thrown, too. He recognizes PPA troops and shouts to Epona to go home. The PPA Special Forces leader is Tiphaine Rutherton, sent to rescue Mathilda, but quick to realize the prize she has with Rudi. She abandons her campsite, and starts moving north, fast.
The alarm is raised at Dun Juniper, and Dennis quickly gets the clan's trackers following the trail while he organises sniffer dogs to join them. He must then send a messenger to find Juniper. (Chap 10)
Castle Ath — Rescuing Rudi
Field of the Cloth of Gold
As the crops are being harvested in September 2010, Norman Arminger calls out his army and the allies respond. The allies are preparing for a bloody experience in which they expect, at best, to fight to a draw. Mike Havel decides the solution is to defeat the Association by defeating Arminger in single combat. Arminger agrees to meet him.
Mike and Arminger fight. Mike kills Arminger but is mortally wounded.
- The island of Hawaii survived the Change because of the low density of its population. It has since mined the ruins of Honolulu and possibly other Hawaiian islands.
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 9