Connwaer used to be nothing more than a thief that prowled the alleys of the Twilight, looking for things to steal to eat and keep himself alive. But then, he picked the pocket of Nevery Finglas, and came away with the Wizard's locus magicalicus, which amazingly enough, didn't kill him at first touch. This intrigued Nevery enough to make Conn his servant, and later, his apprentice.
Conn had to find his locus magicalicus to be an actual mage, and when he finally did, it was part of the Duchess's regalia of office, a leaf-carved emerald. However, to free the magic being who brings magic to the whole of Wellmet, Conn burned his stone, reducing it to nothing more than a fine dust. Now, locus-less, the Mage Academy doesn't want to have him as part of them- he seems to be more trouble than he's worth.
He still is a mage, he just has to find a new locus magicalicus, but he's more concerned with the reports of people being turned to stone in the Twilight. Especially because he ran into a bunch of shadow snakes in Dusk House that tried to do the same to him.
And by accident, he discovers that he can speak to the magic being that is the magic of Wellmet through pyrotechnics, and he scrabbles desperately for supplies to try and speak with it and find out what it wants from him- but the results are inconclusive.
Meanwhile, Conn's friend Ro is being sent to the Desert City of Desh to meet with its leader, Lord Jaggus, himself a mage. She wants to bring Conn along, but her mother will not approve. She thinks Conn is too dangerous an associate, and will not allow Conn to join the delegation.
Meanwhile, Conn discovers what is causing the attacks in the Twilight, and they are strange creatures composed of some kind of black flowing stuff. Nevery experiments on the stuff and discovers that it is a dark version of the slowsilver that is being supplied from Desh.
But when Conn causes a massive explosion that destroys Heartsease in an attempt to find out what the magic being wants from him- he gets a very clear answer- it wants him to go to Desh. But it also leads to him being banished from the city for dangerous magical experiments. So Conn joins the journey to Desh, hoping to find what Lord Jaggus has to do with the strange black creatures attacking Wellmet.
But Duchess Willa isn't the only person who doesn't want Conn to join the delegation to Desh. Captain Kerrn, leader of the Dawn Palace Guards, believes that Conn is a bad influence on Rowena and wants to keep them apart. The only way she will let Conn join is if he disguises himself as a servant to Argent, another of Ro's friends.
But when Conn snoops around Lord Jaggus's castle, he discovers that the Lord himself is the one sending the Shadows to Wellmet. But why? and why was he also behind the scheme to destroy Wellmet's magic? And worse, how can Conn defeat him and save Wellmet and Ro without doing magic, and without a locus magicalicus?
This is a sequel to "The Magic Thief" and the City of Desh, which was heavily mentioned in the first novel as a source of slowsilver, a magical reagent that Wellment needed in vast quantities. But all of it was being shipped to the Twilight to power the machine that was imprisoning the magic.
Now, it seems that the City of Desh was complicit in helping to destroy the Magic of Wellmet, and Lord Jaggus was right at the center of the conspiracy. And Lord Jaggus isn't just some insane mage. The things he says make a horrifying sense to Conn. So when Jaggus tries to recruit Conn to his side, there is a real fear that Conn will decide to do so because of how very much alike they are.
But even though the story in this volume ends, the threat to Wellmet isn't ended. A terrifying force is headed for Wellmet, which is even in more danger now than it has ever been before. And with Conn banished from the city on pain of death, how can he find his locus magicalicus and fight the new threat when he is imprisoned in the Dungeons beneath the Dawn Palace? Sadly, readers will have to wait until the next book to find out.
I loved this book, and I am glad that the third was out and I got it before reading this book, because this is one of those books where you will feel actual pain if you cannot continue the story right away. An excellent series, an excellent book, and Highly recommended.