The young man known as Kiron had escaped imprisonment in the Jouster's Compound in Tia on the back of Avatre - the scarlet dragon he had hand raised from the egg. He had crossed the vast desert, carrying with him one of the greatest treasures of his world: the key to taming dragons. When he reached his homeland of Alta, his bravery and special knowledge had gained him entree to the Compound of the Altan Jousters. Kiron had ended up with more than he had ever dared dream of: a family of close friends who, following Kiron's lead, each now had their own beautiful, spirited yet tame dragonet.
But in gaining entree into Altan noble society, he had also fallen in love with Aket-ten, who was a Fledgling of the magical order of the Winged Ones. From Aket-ten he had learned that Alta was being subjugated by a more powerful and less ethical magical order - the Magi - who had built a terrible weapon that could kill from afar, and would support their reign with terror.
Kiron and Aket=ten had managed to flee Alta with all the Jousters and dragons, some members of the royal family, and close friends. They had escaped to the Lost City of the desert, a place now called Sanctuary.
From their desert stronghold, they slowly increased their numbers, trained new Jousters, and contrived to free the dragons of Tia, thereby destroying the Tian Jousters' army and effectively ending the long-standing conflict between Tia and Alta. Eventually, through careful planning, they had successfully attcked and vanquished the Magi, liberating Alta.
But just surviving in the desert, with more and more sympathetic refugees appearing every day, more people to feed and house, more dragonets to raise, was a daunting prospect. And seemingly just in time, with Sanctuary overflowing, they had discoverd an ancient cliff-dwellers' city, deep in the desert.
No one knew the origins of this mysterious, primitive place made of myriad caves hollowed from the faces of the mighty cliffs. And no one could figure out why the caves of the lowest level - those on the desert floor - were huge pits that seemed custom-made for dragons' lairs. Though the primeval city held its secrets, Kiron and his Dragon Jouster army gratefully moved in and called the city Aerie.
But space was not the only issue the rebel nation faced, for combining two disparate peoples, two religions, two different ways of life, was not an easy thing to do. And though they had conquered the Magi, they had not managed to destroy all of these villianous magicians. Would the surviving Magi try to achieve through surreptitious means the conquest they had not won through violence? (book jacket)