The story is set in the Forsaken Isles, which have been taken over by a
continental power called Inning. The Forsakens are peopled by three
races, the Adaina, the Torna, and the Lashnura. The Innings rule
through the Torna. Rebellion has broken out, aided by elements of the
Inning navy based in the Forsakens and crewed largely by Torna. The
Innings pride themselves on their law reason and justice, but the Inning
admiral in the Isles is a butcher. His brother is siding with the
rebels, which doesn't improve his disposition any.
The islanders are divided, and only a special leader, called an Ison,
can unite them. An Ison can only be made a certain way, by a curing
ritual called dhota-nur, which can only be done by a particular
Lashnura. The parties then become lovers (bandhotai).
The rebel forces try the military option, but their strength is in their
devotion to their idea of balance and morality, which is of course not
that of the Innings.
The fantasy element is a bit stifling (only this way), and manages to be
pervasive, though not encountered at every turn, as in many novels.
This book is not free standing; it's the second in a series, and not the
last, despite the note "About the Author," which says that the story is
"concluded in Ison of the Isles." The story did not at all feel to be