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Twelve-year-old Eliza is amazed to discover she is the Shang Sorceress — because no matter what everyone thinks, she really can't do any magic. Eliza knows for certain what she isn't: the powerful Sorceress the learned Mancers think her to be. Or is she? Eliza is stunned to learn her father has been keeping important secrets. Her mother's death wasn't from pneumonia, but the death of all great Shang Sorceresses: killed in battle against evil forces. Even so, Eliza's lessons with the Mancers at their Citadel prove to them what she has always known – she can't do any magic. The final brave act of Eliza's mother was to trap the evil Xia Sorceress in an Arctic prison. But the witch is still strong enough to use her minions to capture Eliza's father. Escaping the Citadel with her best friend Nell and new friend Charlie, Eliza sets off to rescue him. They seek help from the Triumvirate, an uneasy alliance of ultimate power – the Oracle, the King of the Faeries, and Swarn, the witch who delivered Eliza as a baby. They try to stop her, but she is determined. She knows she's connected to the Xia Sorceress somehow. What awaits Eliza in the Arctic prison is worse than she could have imagined. Abandoned by the Mancers and the Triumvirate, she must rely on her friends and her own wits and common sense to succeed in her quest and find what she is destined to become.