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Long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, there were seven devils . . . And long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods . . . And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still . . . In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him. Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead or lost or mad, follow hard on the their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog's-and Holla-Sayan's-doom. Contains mature themes.