Marble maker Rye Cunnings sees dragons. Sees them on occasion flying during daylight hours around Bristol. Sees them, and avoids going outside. After seeing what violence dragons can do, he plays it safe. Keeps his mouth shut and his head down. Dragons are dangerous. And hadn’t all his foster parents told him never to play with fire?
Always searching for other people’s happiness, Rye hopes he might stumble upon his own. But after a neglect-filled, twenty years of life, he doesn’t think he’ll find it. But that’s okay, because he has one friend, Milo, to pass away the time. And he can make marbles. Ones that give him short bursts of pleasure and make him forget his tormenting dreams.
But . . .
Warrior dragon Cerdic finds Rye, exposing the truth: Rye is one of them, a Telluric; his marbles are a take on Keys—the magical craft of their people. Cerdic wants him to come to his real home, luring him there in return for helping Rye find Milo, a friend that was snatched by a dragon.
But how can Rye trust Cerdic when he too is a dragon?
Resolving to go with Cerdic on the promise of learning skills that might save a dragon-snatched friend, Rye finds himself in a gateway between the human world and the Telluric one. There he must stay until he has earned a Key that will let him pass into the four kingdoms.
Along the way, he learns about the history of the Tellurics and their Hansian foes, becomes friends with those on both sides, and is swept up in a bitter battle of justice and hate.