The fate of the Ming hangs on a knife edge.
In the south, defence against relentless pirate raids is escalating into all-out war. The beleaguered Chinese forces must rally for a desperate last stand fought across salt and sand. Nearby, fearless magistrate Hai Rui is tasked with investigating a major corruption scandal. In Beijing, a chance to trump the embezzling viper Yan Song and his influential clan presents itself. There to snatch it is the Crown Prince, and his coalition of the righteous. At a time when the appearance of a mysterious ‘blood scripture’ could either turn the tide or unleash chaos untold, chief eunuch Lu Fang, a loyal and yet crafty kingmaker, is forced to choose sides. In war as in the Forbidden City, the game is sudden death. Now, China’s heroes make their move: a perilous gambit to salvage centuries of progress. If they fail… everything burns.