A land of incomparable beauty torn by civil war. An ancient tradition undermined by spies and assassins. A society of rigid castes and codes subverted by love.
Takeo is raised among the Hidden, whose beliefs forbid them to kill. When his family fall victim to religious persecution at the hands of Lord Iida of the Dairyo clan, he is rescued and adopted by the warrior, Shigeru, of the Otori clan. Defeated ten years before by the Dairyo, many of the Otori still want revenge and look to Shigeru, the rightful heir, to lead them. However his uncles, the lords of the clan, would prefer to see him dead, and so would his greatest enemy, Iida.
Fifteen year-old Kaede, a hostage of the Noguchi, allies of the Iida, has acquired the reputation of bringing death to any man who desires her. A marriage is arranged with Shigeru, ostensibly to bring the Otori into alliance, but really to mask his murder. Unknown to Takeo, his real father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary skills, including night vision, invisibility, creating a second self when fighting, and many methods of assassination. They sell their services as assassins and spies to the Warlords. Takeo has many of these skills. In addition he has supernatural hearing and skills as an artist, and both Shigeru and the Tribe want to use these skills for their own purposes.
Conflicted by split loyalties and tormented by his own divided nature, Takeo realises he must find his own way through this world of intrigue and violence, beauty and passion. He must make his own destiny . . .