By Eileen Scott
In the ancient land of this story, the rulers are women, called Grith Mauthvers, with absolute power over all the people and a strict regimen of behaviour. Their rule has become corrupt and tyrannical but there is not yet open rebellion. The centre of the story is a young, naive, and beautiful woman, Ulka, destined to be the next Grith Mauthver. She is devoted to her calling, yet troubled by the cruelty of the regime. She navigates through the treacherous sea of suppressed dissent and fear and her unreliable allies are two senior priests, Zennon and the young Basilion.
Eventually, the old Grith Mauthver dies and Ulka attempts to fulfil her destiny, despite the violent hatred of Maranti, the senior assistant of the ultimate ruler. There is a violent confrontation, but greater forces are operating and the temple and its surrounding lands become convulsed by storm, earthquake and fire.
Ulka’s brother, Raedo, a sailor, helps her and Tonda, her cat, to escape and flee to safer territory. Ulka has lost her divine destiny and has an uncertain future. The fear and longing of her priestess role are replaced by regret and boredom. The book ends with Ulka affirming her status, in a superior relationship with the senior priest, who has also survived the apocalypse. She is, at heart, a Grith Mauthver after all.