Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina Starkov will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
The book starts with a description of the White Cathedral and the myths that surround it, primarily that of an ancient worm that ate its way through the earth and made the series of tunnels. It describes the highly unfavorable condition that Alina finds herself in after fleeing from the Darkling in the previous book, near powerless and without access to her friends. Alina is weak and cannot summon her power. She wants to go above ground, but the Apparat will not let her.
"I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but me."
"Know that I loved you. Know that it was not enough."
"I am become a blade."
"I love it when you quote me."
"They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things, if love can ever be called that."
"You want a love story too? There's none to be had."
"I am not ruined. I am ruination."
"I would've been different too, without you. Weaker, restless. Afraid of the dark. But no matter who or what I was, I would've been yours."
"And that would've been our beginning." "And this, still would've been our end."
"It's a vow that if I can't be anything else to you, at least I can be a weapon in your hand."
"I'm the Sun Summoner. It gets dark when I say it does."
"I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret."
"Not bad looking? He's damnably handsome. Brave in battle, smart as a whip. An excellent dancer. Oh, and an even better shot."
"Despise your heart. I have no heart."
"Suffering is cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters is what each man makes of it."
"Was this an argument?" "Obviously not. I don't lose arguments."
"You are all I've ever wanted. You are the whole of my heart."
"Just this once, let me carry you."
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”