This book details a rather curious occupation of pseudo-mages called cardmasters. These cardmasters are born with th ability to imbue cards, which can be any shape, size, color, or material, with differing powers. This power comes with a price in lifeforce, but any cardmaster worth his ink is able to carve out a modest living. Not all cards are magical, though, and in fact the whole profession started in antiquity when all cards were normal, and used to simulate warfare, or decide other matters like boundary disputes. In real life in the present, these normals still are, whereas magics are generally sold to buyers who wish to avail themselves of the effects they can create. The story described in the book involves a fledgling cardmancer with a unique connection to the power of cards, and a battle between neighboring kingdoms, in which the strategies of an assassinated king need finding to tip the balance in the cardplay.