Zaya expected to be the irresponsible youngest prince his whole life. But when his two older siblings are killed by an unidentified magician, he finds himself crowned king of Lushrain—the end of his liberty as he knows it. As part of his training, he’s sent to Heartwood for a month, the house of the sages high in the mountains. There, to his shock, the sages tell him he must learn about magic—which is illegal to practice, but has nonetheless been among Heartwood’s secret studies for centuries.
They assign Col as his tutor, a charming young sage with unusually strong powers. Zaya abhors and distrusts magic, and Col absolutely doesn’t want the job of attempting to change the king’s mind. But in their lessons and debates, they grow closer and begin envisioning a future in which a sage and a king might make a harmonious couple.
But the assassin still roams, seeking to hurt Zaya, and the budding love affair may be crushed by the secrets that Heartwood—and Col—have kept about this killer.
[Content warnings: death, grief, drowning, murder, moderate body horror (body parts turning into plants), mention of rape]