Anarchy, plague, and the mandates of a pitiless queen have thrown the island community of Old Korvosa into chaos. Forsaken by the government and cut off from the rest of the city, hundreds of unfortunates stand helpless against the rising criminal warlords, each eager to carve out a slice of Korvosa as his own.
Yet, amid the turmoil of warring gangs and sinister power mongers hides the only man who might be able to restore sanity to the beleaguered city. But why has he remained silent for so long? What secret of the new queen does he hide? And what fiendish power grows in the shadows, ready to sink its claws into the heart of Old Korvosa?