Queen Usharna, queen of the Kingdom of Grenda Lear, is dying and appoints her eldest son, Berayma, to succeed her as King. Against tradition, she deems it necessary to give the five Keys of Power, symbols of royal authority, to each of her five children ... Berayma does not have the luxury of ruling with absolute power. However, even before Berayma is crowned king he is murdered. Lynan, the youngest of the five, evades capture and escapes with Kumul, his bodyguard, and Pendrosa, a young 'magiker'. Lynan is suspected to be the traitor and murderer, and Areava - now to be Queen - is very keen to catch him. the real murderers also want to find Lynan - to kill him. Lynan and his companions flee the kingdom in hopes of finding refuge amongst the Chetts, a legendary tribe of barbarians and centaurs. Lynan wants to clear his name, and although he's not quite as sure about this, he wants to rule Grenda Lear as it should be ruled - not with fear and violence, but with care and affection for the people.