Poppy has been told since she was a child that the fate of her people relies on her sacrifice as the Maiden. She's had faith in that, even though no one will tell her exactly what it means, and she begins to question her role once she meets her mysterious new guard, Hawke.
After Queen Daleina discovers that she needs an heir more quickly than she thought, she sends her champions out to find powerful young women who could take on that role. Naelin is not young, nor does she think she is powerful, but after Champion Ven sees the depth of her strength, he believes she is the heir Renthia needs, even if she wants no part of her powers.
After the ruling family is killed for their crimes, one child remains hidden. In the new government that has been created, any mentions of the previous way of life must be discouraged, so Lee must fight to keep his past hidden, even when the actions of his family have hurt the lives of the people he now cares the most about.
After the death of her mother, Karina is desperate to bring her back so the ruling of their country doesn't fall on her. In order to complete the ritual, she needs a king's heart. Malik's younger sister was taken by a spirit and the only way to get her back is to kill the princess, Karina. He enters into a competition where the prize is her hand in marriage in order to get close to her.
Spirits have always wanted to kill humans living in the forest, but there has always been a queen to keep them in check, until they start attacking remote villages. Daleina, who has an ability to control spirits and was able to save her family from one such attack, makes it her mission to help in any way she can.