SPACE WHERE SPOILERS GO
DON’T WANT THIS STUFF TURNING UP
ON A CASUAL GOOGLE SEARCH
HERE ARE SOME FAKE SPOILERS
THE SPY IS A RAVELLER
JERE’S NOT DEAD
ALCHEMISTS ARE LOVELY PEOPLE
HOW’S YOUR PANDEMIC GOING
I HOPE YOU’RE WELL
THANKS FOR READING
RIGHT, THAT SHOULD DO IT.
The structure of The Shadow Saint is somewhat more complex than that of The Gutter Prayer – instead of three-thieves-plus-Jere-plus-Eladora all poking at different parts of the mystery, it’s members of three factions (Guerdon, Ishmere and Haith) all trying to find the godbombs and/or secure control over the city, while also dealing with their own internal strife. Therefore, rather than going through every twist and turn of the plot, I’ll give a cast list, then an overview of the story, and finally a “what you need to know when you pick up The Broken God” summary.
Characters marked with a * are dead (for certain values of dead) by the end of The Shadow Saint.
Eladora Duttin, formerly a graduate student, now a political aide to Effro Kelkin in the Industrial Liberal party. Eladora barely survived the events of The Gutter Prayer, when she was captured and forced to participate in a magical ritual by her wormy grandfather, Jermas Thay. She’s also ABSOLUTELY NOT TROUBLED AT ALL, THANK YOU by the fact that her former tutor, Professor Ongent and his son (and object of Eladora’s unrequited attraction, Miren) both turned out to be worshippers of the hateful Black Iron Gods. Eladora is fine, thank you. She’s much too busy to discuss any of the above.
*Terevant Erevesic, the second son of the Erevesic family. Terevant is a soldier in the army of Haith; however, as the tale begins, he’s at home, awaiting the results of an tribunal investigating a disastrous battle where many of the troops under his command perished. Before joining the army, Terevant fell in love with Lyssada, the daughter of one of his family’s military officers. When Lys joined the Bureau (Haith’s administrative section), Terevant tried to follow her, but was rejected. He went off and got drunk for several years. Terevant’s a mess.
A Spy, also known as
And divers other identities
The spy’s nature and loyalty are a mystery throughout most of the book, but he seems to be working for Ishmere.
The city of Guerdon – studiously neutral in the Godswar, home to alchemical factories that supply weapons to the various belligerents in the Godswar. At the end of The Gutter Prayer, as a result of Carillon’s actions, the corpse of Spar Idgeson was transformed into a magical and mutable New City that occupies a large portion of Guerdon. Notably, the New City swallowed and crushed the old Alchemist’s District.
Carillon Thay, now the Saint of Knives and guardian of the New City. Bred to be the herald of the Black Iron Gods. Carillon was sent to live with her aunt Silva and her cousin Eladora at a young age, but ran away to sea and wandered the world for many years until she returned to Guerdon.
*Spar Idgeson, now the spirit of the New City. Spar’s father Idge was the master of the Brotherhood of Thieves, and agitated against the crushing power of the Guilds.
Rat, now the Lord Rat and chief ghoul of Guerdon.
Silkpurse, another ghoul and long-term supporter of Effro Kelkin.
Effro Kelkin, veteran politician and Guerdon’s acting first minister.
*Doctor Ramegos: A sorceress from the distant city of Khebesh, hired by Kelkin as Guerdon’s Chief Thamaturgist; also Eladora’s tutor in sorcery.
*Sylvia Duttin, Eladora’s mother (and, for a while, Cari’s foster mother/oppressor). Sylvia is a member of the Safidist sect, religious extremists who preach utter devotion to the Kept Gods.
Sinter, spymaster and sinister operative of the Church of the Kept Gods.
Dredger: A dealer in alchemical salvage; a friend to Sanhada Baradhin, one of the identities of the Spy.
*Saint Aleena: Heroic and foul-mouthed hero of Guerdon; wielded a fucking flaming sword. Saint of the Kept Gods.
*Jermas Thay: Patriarch of the Thay family, secretly plotted to turn the Black Iron Gods into gods of his design. Died long before the story begins, but came back as a wormy Crawling One and attempted to use Eladora to remake the gods, only to be slain again by Aleena.
*Guildmistress Rosha: The former head of the alchemist’s guild and creator of the godbombs; transferred her consciousness to an alchemical machine and wax mould for making waxen duplicates of herself.
Heinreil: Former Master of the Thieves’ Guild, brought low by Carillon and Spar. Worked with Guildmistress Rosha on her schemes to secure the Black Iron Bells. Severely wounded and arrested after the events of The Gutter Prayer.
Myri: A sorceress hired by Heinreil as magical backup; she was badly injured in the same carriage crash that wounded Heinreil.
Miren Ongent: Professor Ongent’s son and ersatz Herald of the Black Iron Gods
The Sacred Realm of Ishmere
The Sacred Realm of Ishmere is one of the most powerful empires in the Godswar, and has conquered much of the south. Its gods are mad – and their madness gives them strength. Recently, Ishmere has conquered the lands of Severast and Mattaur, and now looks north…
Emlin, a saint of the Fate Spider who poses as the Spy’s adopted son.
*Annah, a spy operating in Guerdon, looking for the god bombs.
*Tander, Annah’s henchman.
The Empire of Haith
The Empire of Haith is ancient – and rotten. Once, it conquered much of the known world through a combination of martial discipline, arcane might, logistical expertise and, oh yeah, armies of the dead. Haith once had colonies and dominions all over the world, but now it’s in retreat. The capital, Old Haith, lies north of Guerdon.
There are three death-castes. Supplicants, the most common, offer up the magical energy of their souls for the good of the nation. Vigilants are implanted with magical periapts that allow them to become undead after death. The highest caste, the Enshrined, dwell within magical vessels (phylacteries) after death. These magical vessels are held by noble families, like the Erevesics. The greatest phylactery is the Crown of Haith, which is not held by any one family – instead, the Crown picks its next bearer.
The other pillar of Haithi society is the Bureau, their sprawling administrative service.
*Olthic Erevesic, Terevant’s older brother. A legendary soldier and hero, now ambassador to Guerdon. He’s married to…
Lyssada Erevesic, the daughter of one of the Erevesic family’s retainers. Lys is now a spy for the Bureau.
*Edoric Vanth: A bureaucrat at the Haithi embassy in Guerdon; also a spy. He gets killed in his opening chapter.
*Prince Daerinth, another bureaucrat at the embassy, and the son of a former bearer of the Crown.
*Yoras, a soldier who died under Terevant’s command, but turns out to be pretty cool about it.
Berrick: Lys’ “assistant” – in fact, the descendant of the long-lost king of Guerdon, and part of a Haithi/Keeper plot to swing the election by bringing back the monarchy.
Lemuel: A Guerdon-native fixer and informant who works with Lys.
The Isle of Lyrix
Located to the east of Guerdon, the isle of Lyrix is famed for its dragon-pirates, the Ghierdana. Think the Mafia, if the godfather was sixty feet long and could breathe fire.
Great-Uncle: The draconic head of one of the Ghierdana criminal syndicates.
Artolo: Great-Uncle’s man in Guerdon – until he got kicked out by Cari & Spar.
Rasce: Artolo’s nephew, and Great-Uncle’s new agent in Guerdon.
Aether: The spiritual plane; a realm of chaotic elemental energy, stirred by the thoughts and beliefs of humans. Gods are self-propagating patterns in the aether; to cast a spell is to channel energy from the aether.
Aethergraph: A recent development in Guerdon – an alchemical communications device, half-way between a telegraph and a séance.
Alchemy: A form of magic developed primarily in Guerdon, based on using the lingering miraculous energy in physical substances to create magical effects.
Alkahest: An alchemical medicine used to treat the Stone Plague.
The Black Iron Gods: Tyrannical and hungry gods, defeated three centuries ago and trapped in the form of iron bells. Later, the alchemists of Guerdon discovered how to turn these bells into weapons capable of destroying gods safely. During the events of The Gutter Prayer, most of the Black Iron Gods were ruined beyond any likely prospect of revival; three bells were in the process of being converted into bombs when the alchemists’ quarter was destroyed, and survived in truncated form.
Congruence: The spiritual alignment between a saint and a god; the higher the degree of congruence, the more powerful the bond.
Crawling One: A species of corpse-eating worms that claim to preserve the memories and personalities of the brains they devour. Crawling One colonies are capable of forming themselves into vaguely humanoid piles of worms, and wear porcelain masks in an attempt to appear more approachable.
Ghoul: Creatures of the underworld below Guerdon; eaters of the dead. Young ghouls are almost human in thought and outlook; feral ghouls are consumed by their hungers and run wild in the dark, preying on intruders. Elder ghouls are potent sorcerers. Guerdon’s elder ghouls were wiped out in a war with Crawling Ones; only Rat remains.
God: Depending on who you ask – a self-perpetuating pattern in the aether, a genuine divinity worthy of worship and praise, or trouble you don’t want. Gods cannot (usually) die, but can be diminished through repeated assault or torn asunder by rival deities. Gods typically intervene in the mortal world through Saints, but can manifest in more subtle or gross forms by expending more energy.
Godbomb: A weapon developed by the alchemists of Guerdon (primarily the late guildmistress Rosha) using the remains of the Black Iron Gods. A Godbomb annihilates the aetheric patterns of a god, killing it.
Gods of Ishmere: A militant and deranged pantheon of gods, including such terrible deities as *Pesh the Lion Queen, the sea-stealing Kraken, the fecund aerial deity Cloud Mother, the mysterious Smoke Painter and the weaver, Fate Spider. The lord of the pantheon is High Umur.
Gods of Lyrix: Only mentioned in passing; the gods of Lyrix despaired at the sinfulness of the people, and turned their sins into dragons. The dragons then allied with the sinners and thieves, and looted the temples of the gods.
Gods of Haith: Haith has only one God, the nameless god of death.
Kept Gods: The gods of Guerdon, kept placid and tractable through spiritual starvation. Now, in the aftermath of the events of The Gutter Prayer, the Kept Gods have begun to asset themselves, leading to a renewal of the Safidist movement (or vice versa – it’s hard to distinguish cause and effect in spiritual matters). The Kept Gods include Saint Storm, the Mother, and the Holy Beggar.
The head of the Church of the Kept Gods is the Patros. For three hundred years, after the defeat of the Black Iron Gods, the Keepers ruled Guerdon, only to be dislodged by Effro Kelkin’s reforms – and Kelkin was then himself shunted aside by the Alchemists.
Phlogiston: Alchemical stuff. Goes boom. Dilute phlogiston is used as a rough analogy to gunpowder; the proper stuff’s like radioactive napalm.
Psychopomp: A servitor spirit or creature of a god, tasked with collecting residuum.
Raveller: Servants/emanations of the Black Iron Gods – shapeshifting monsters of tremendous power.
Residuum: Spiritual energy that remains in a corpse after death. Surprisingly potent stuff, as it’s not contaminated by the thoughts and doubts of a mortal brain, and so it can be harvested in its pure state through burial rites. Ghouls consume residuum from their meals.
Sainthood: What happens when a god picks you to be their channel to the mortal world. Some saints are carefully cultivated to be good candidates for congruency; other gods just glom onto some poor soul who happened to be a good match when the god glanced their way. Saints get blessed with divine powers, and often slowly warp to match their divine patron.
Sorcery: Drawing on the power of the aether directly, instead of getting magic second-hand through a god. Humans are poor sorcerers, and tend to fry their brains when trying to channel power.
Stone Plague: A contagious disease that afflicts some in Guerdon. Those who contract the disease slowly turn to stone. The disease temporarily enhances the strength of sufferers, before locking them in a tomb of their own flesh.
Lots of Running Around And Probably Too Much Politics
The Sacred Empire of Ishmere dispatches the spy – believing him to be Sanhada Baradhin – to Guerdon. His initial mission is to escort Emlin to the city, and to smuggle him past Guerdon’s anti-divine security cordon – a task he accomplishes with the aid of Baradhin’s old friend Dredger. Once in Guerdon, the spy adopts a new identity, ‘Alic’ and makes contact with the other Ishmeric spies, Annah and Tander. Emlin will relay messages back to Ishmere, while Alic’s ordered to infiltrate the Industrial Liberals.
After the events of The Gutter Prayer, Guerdon’s been governed by a temporary emergency council, but now it’s time for an election. Effro Kelkin – the leader of the Industrial Liberal party – gambles that he can win enough votes in the New City to offset any gains by his old rivals, the Alchemist-backed Hawkers. He assigns Eladora to help with this task. However, Eladora’s approached by her mother Silva and the priest Sinter, who hint that the religious party of the Keepers is going to make an unexpectedly strong showing in the election. Silva’s revealed to be a newly-minted saint of the Kept Gods. Mysteriously, Sinter also gives Eladora a relic – the hilt of Saint Aleena’s sword.
In Haith, Terevant Erevesic is sent south to bring the family sword to his brother. He also helps smuggle Lys’ assistant Berrick into Guerdon. Along the way, they stop at the valley of Grena, where a god-bomb was test-fired in The Gutter Prayer. Due to complications, Terevant’s forced to leave the sword outside the city in Lys’ keeping – which proves disastrous for his relationship with Olthic. Both Olthic and Lys are competing for consideration as the next bearer of the Crown, the highest possible honour in Haithi society, and Olthic needed the charisma-magnifying power of the family sword to convince Guerdon’s leadership to ally with Haith.
In his new role at the embassy, Terevant investigates the death of Edoric Vanth. Lemuel tells him of a possible lead in the New City, and suggests that Vanth was killed by the Saint of Knives.
The spy befriends Silkpurse – and Silkpurse recommends him to Eladora. The three go into the New City in search of Carillon Thay, hoping to use her preternatural insight into the affairs of the New City to aid the election effort. On the way, Alic tells Eladora about the fall of the city of Serevast, where both sides worshipped the Ishmeric gods, leading to a divine schism and holy war. They find Carillon’s house has been firebombed, and the remains of Edoric Vanth lie within. They’re attacked by mysterious assailants and forced to separate. Silkpurse and Alic flee; Eladora’s taken by Carillon.
At the same time in the New City, Terevant’s introduced to Sinter. There’s a lot of sleight-of-hand and misdirection, but the upshot is that Sinter and Lemuel are trying to convince Terevant that Vanth was killed by the Saint of Knives and not by the Keepers.
Vanth’s body is taken to Queen’s Point, a fortress of the City Watch.
With Eladora temporarily out of the way, Alic breaks into her apartment and steals papers which he brings to Annah and Tander. Alic also becomes increasingly protective of Emlin, and worries about the strain of sainthood on him.
Cari takes Eladora to one of her eyries and explains that she’s spent the last few months kicking the Ghierdana and other spies out of the New City; they’re looking for the remaining Black Iron gods, two of which are buried under the New City. A third – a finished, ready-to-fire godbomb – was taken by Guerdon’s navy. Cari (or rather Spar, through Cari) gives Eladora what she seeks – a list of influential people in the New City who can be induced to support Kelkin’s election. Eladora adds Alic’s name to this list of candidates.
Eladora runs into Terevant again at Queen’s Point, when both wait for their respective appointments with Dr. Ramegos, the city’s chief thaumaturgist.
Terevant collects Vanth’s body from Queen’s Point and brings it back to the embassy. He reanimates it and tries to have Vanth investigate his own murder, but the trail leads to a townhouse where he tangles with Cari. The undead Vanth pursues Cari over the rooftops, and Terevant’s left mostly empty-handed.
Everything Comes Together At The Feast of Flowers, Then Explosions
At the annual Festival of Flowers – a holy day for the Kept Gods – Eladora begins to have mystical visions. Her mother attacks Emlin, accusing him of being a saint of the Fate Spider. Meanwhile, Lys’ plan comes to fruition – she has Berrick miraculously revealed as the long-lost heir to the throne of Guerdon by the Keeper priests. The return of the king will rally support for the Keepers in the election and restore the former theocratic domination of parliament – and ensure an alliance between Guerdon and Haith. Lys returns the Erevesic sword to Olthic: he’s no longer a prospective rival for the Crown, as Lys’ reputation will be sufficiently burnished by her successful installation of a puppet monarch in Guerdon. Olthic turns out to be surprisingly sanguine about being politically outmanoeuvred.
Confused by events, Terevant gets drunk, hangs around with some lovely mercenaries, then gets mugged.
Meanwhile, acting on intelligence from the stolen papers, Alic and Tander sneak into Queen’s Point to confirm there’s a godbomb in the arsenal. They find that one such weapon is ready to be loaded onto a Guerdonese warship, the Grand Retort. The first god to attack Guerdon faces certain destruction. However, Alic betrays Tander, murdering him, and reports back to Annah; he lies that Guerdon’s defenceless. Ishmere can invade without fear of the godbombs.
Back at the embassy, Terevant wakes up to find his brother Olthic has been murdered and the sword stolen. Yoras helps Terevant flee. As the Erevesic sword can only be wielded by a Vigiliant or a member of the family, Terevan’s blamed for the crime. Finding the sword will allow him to clear his name. He wanders the streets for days; through a former contact of Vanth’s, he finds some mysterious technical documents that he brings to Eladora. Meanwhile, House Erevesic’s army arrives outside Guerdon to secure the murderer of their lord.
Eladora determines that the technical documents are the design for, effectively, a god-summoning machine. The godbomb has a limited reach, so the target deity needs to be manifest for the weapon to work. Alic overhears this conversation, and excuses himself. Eladora and Terevant go back up into the New City to find Cari and get her help.
The spy wars within himself; he has a sinister plan in mind for Emlin, but his cover identity of ‘Alic’ has become a full-fledged persona and won’t co-operate. The spy wins out, and Emlin is arrested as an illegal saint and brought to the divine prison on Hark Island. In a last-minute change of heart, Alic goes with Emlin to the island.
In the New City, Cari agrees to help Terevant and Eladora find the missing Erevesic sword. They’re attacked by Silva and a band of Safidist saints; in the fight, Eladora discovers that she’s been set up as a proxy saint for her mother, confusing the Kept Gods. Sinter’s able to use this to take down both Cari and Silva – he doesn’t want a Safidist takeover of the Church. As a side effect of the fight, the New City sustains heavy damage, as the holy fire of Silva’s sword burns Spar’s soul, setting buildings alight. Sinter sends Cari to Hark Island; and hands Terevant over to Lys at the Palace of the Patros. He spares Eladora.
At Rat’s urging, Eladora and Silkpurse go to Hark island. En route, Eladora visits Dr. Ramegos, and discovers that she has the Erevesic Sword. She, Edoric Vanth and Prince Daerinth were engaged in a scheme to create new godbombs using Haithi phylacteries; the sword was promised as payment. Eladora convinces Ramegos to return the sword to Terevant at the Palace of the Patros.
The Ishmeric invasion fleet approaches Guerdon. The city’s defences are activated; they plan to use Emlin, a saint of the Fate Spider, to summon that deity, then shoot it with a godbomb. Eladora tries to plead for Cari, Emlin and Alic to be freed, but she’s overtaken by events as the summoning ritual begins and the warship Grand Retort sails into firing position.
At the Palace of the Patros, Terevant’s due to be handed over to the Haithi forces and face punishment for the murder of Olthic. Lys has Lemuel break Terevant out of prison, but they’re intercepted by Sinter and his saints. Lemuel is killed; the Kept Gods fear Kelkin will turn on them, and sink the Grand Retort with a bolt of lightning. In the confusion, Terevant escapes into the undercity and is captured by ghouls.
On Hark, everything explodes. Eladora frees Cari from prison – and discovers that another prisoner on Hark is Miren Ongent. Miren teleports away; Cari and Eladora escape by boat. Alic tries to rescue Emlin, but fails and is apparently killed in an artillery bombardment; Emlin is transformed into a monstrous warped saint, and ends up merging with the city’s aethergraph network, a form of magical telephone.
Godswar in Guerdon
With the godbomb sidelined, the invasion begins. A tidal wave washes over the city, dropping Ishmeric warships throughout Guerdon. Yoras and the Erevesic sword are washed away.
Back in the New City, Terevant’s brought to the vault underground, where Daerinth’s trying to recover the other godbombs – everyone’s convinced that without the Hark island/Grand Retort setup, Ishmere’s going to easily conquer Guerdon, so everyone’s grabbing what they can. Terevant arrives and accuses Daerinth of conspiring to sell the Erevesic phylactery. Ramegos shows up and confirms everything; Miren teleports in and stuff explodes, Cari shows up and reseals the vault. Daerinth’s killed, but confusion reigns – the city’s about to stomped by the Ishmeric gods and saints.
Eladora has a plan, but she needs three days to pull it off. She asks the others to hold the city for three days. She goes to the Palace of the Patros and meets with Lys, and secures aid from Haith. She then returns to the vault and has Cari open it once more. With the aid of a mortally wounded Dr. Ramegos, Eladora steps through and makes contact with the Black Iron Gods; she bargains with them, asking for Miren’s gift of teleportation to take her to Lyrix. They grant her the boon, although the cost of the magic is not revealed in this book.
With the aid of Cari, the ghouls, the House Erevesic forces and Guerdon’s own defences, they manage to hold the city, fighting the Ishmerians to a standstill.
Alic is revealed to have mysteriously survived the bombardment of Hark Island. Ishmeric forces land on the island, and the goddess Pesh manifests. She marches on the city in war-form. Cari sails out and, with Spar’s aid, raises the wreck of the Grand Retort. The effort of raising the ship and battling the invading gods exhausts Spar to the point of annihilation.
At the same time, Terevant finally recovers the sword and attacks Pesh.
Cari fires the god-bomb, killing the war-goddess. Soon afterwards, Eladora returns with the Ghierdana. Her plan is to force a three-way truce; Haith and Ishmere would continue to fight over the city even if one side suffered a temporary setback. The peace has to be enforced – so she’s invited the Ghierdana dragon-syndicates of Ishmere back into Guerdon. The Armistice she’s arranged declares that portions of the city will be divided between the three occupying powers; if any side breaches the truce, then the other two sides will ally together against their rival.
The election results in a hung parliament, although Kelkin’s able to cobble together a working government. Eladora recruits the disgraced ex-priest Sinter as an aide.
Carillon leaves the city in search of a way to restore Spar’s strength. Cari’s been injured – back when she was the Saint of Knives, she merrily maimed and murdered a number of Ghierdana. Now, without Spar’s protection, she’s vulnerable, and the Ghierdana want revenge. Eladora advises that Cari travel to the distant city of Khebesh, the city of sorcerers that Dr. Ramegos came from. She gives Cari money – and the arcane journal of Ramegos, as a bargaining chip to gain entry to Khebesh.
The vote ratifying the Armistice is called – and Alic and his supporters threaten to vote against it, risking a resumption of the war. Eladora meets Alic in Queen’s Point, and accuses him of being a spy for Ishmere. He admits that he was a spy, and begs for forgiveness.
She shoots him, then activates a machine in the room next door – the prototype of the divine engine Ramegos built on Hark. The spy re-manifests there; he is a god, the Fate Spider of Severast. Eladora shoots him again, and uses his attachment to Emlin (still trapped in the aethergraph) to draw him back to the mortal world. She kills Alic over and over until he agrees to serve her.
Months later, Eladora attends her mother’s funeral. After the ceremony, she’s given a box that was sent by her grandfather, Jermas Thay, along with Carillon when she went to live with Eladora’s family in the countryside. The box has been sealed for many years. Eladora reflects that both her grandfather and her mother were monstrous individuals, but they both had the power and the will to change the city they loved. She cannot deny who she is, and opens the box.
The State of Play as of Book 3
The city of Guerdon is divided between three occupying forces – the necromantic Empire of Haith (who control Guerdon’s new figurehead monarch), the weird gods of Ishmere, and the island of Lyrix – backed up by the Lyrixian dragon-syndicates.
Eladora’s the Chief Thaumaturgist of Guerdon, and has secured the services of a number of talented individuals, most notably former Keeper spymaster Sinter, and Alic/the Fate Spider. She’s working behind the scenes in Guerdon’s government, trying to keep the peace.
Rat is chieftain of the ghouls of Guerdon, and guards the underworld – including the vaults under the New City that contain the remains of the old Alchemists’ Quarter.
Spar, the spirit of the New City, is silent, weakened to the point of death by the events of The Shadow Saint. The New City – the magical quarter of Guerdon conjured from his corpse in the Gutter Miracle – is now held by the Lyrixians.
And Cari? Carillon Thay, bred to be the Herald of the Black Iron Gods, former runaway, former Saint of Knives? She’s gone off in search of the city of Khebesh…