Plot Summary Edit
The Air War covers the beginning of Wasp Empress Seda's renewed invasion of the Lowlands. The novel is set in multiple different cities where events play out concurrently.
The novel opens with Taki making a visit to Capitas to compete in a flying exhibition, only to be contacted by Axrad, the former fighter-ace she duelled and defeated in the retaking of Solarno. Axrad brings her to a warehouse and shows her the Empire's newest machines, aircraft that are a cross between fixed-wings and orthopters dubbed 'Farsphex'. They are spotted by some guards and Axrad is killed as an intruder, but Taki manages to flee and escape Capitas after a pusuit by the enemy, who seem eerily able to track her movements. She heads for Collegium.
Groups of Fly-kinden factory workers are rounded up from their jobs and retrained as bombardiers for the new Farsphex, working in pairs with a Wasp-kinden pilots possessed of the rare mindlink Art that enables them to coordinate tactics exteremely efficiently. Once their training is far enough advanced they are sent on bombing raids against Collegium.
General Brugan has become increasingly disturbed by Empress Seda's rule of the Wasp Empire and her nightly blood-drinking rituals he is made to participate in as her consort. He hatches a plot to remove her power-base and raise himself up as the Empire's effective ruler. Along with Consortium magnate Knowles Bellowern, Colonels Harvang and Vecter, and a wider group of lower-ranking officers he installs men loyal to him in positions of power and sweeps away Seda's Inapt advisors, culminating in the arrest of Gjegevey and Tegrec. However, Harvang's adjutant Ostrec is in fact an Assassin-Bug shape-shifter sent by a faction of the Arcanum to assasinate Seda who was swayed to Seda's side by her power, and Seda learns of the plot. The night after Brugan's coup she acts submissively in bed, lulling him into a false sense of security, but the next day has Tisamon 's shade kill all the conspirators save Brugan, whom she forces to resubmit to her before showing him her Red Watch, a new faction within the Wasp Army loyal only to her.
In Solarno Edit
Fly-kinden former pirate Laszlo travels to Solarno to act as an agent for Stenwold Maker. He mingles with the agents of other powers including Imperial Fly-kinden Te Riel, Fly-Solarnese halfbreed Breighl and female Firefly-kinden Lissart. A Spiderlands fleet lands in the city, the Aldanrael having finally decided to end Solarno's independance, but resistance from the Solarnese and the Wasp Empire's forces thereis minimal. That night Laszlo, who has fallen for Lissart against his better judgement, is ambushed by thugs at their supposed rendezvous but kills one and escapes. Not knowing if Lissart has been captured or has betrayed him, he returns to his apartment and is confronted by Breighl, who turns out to be a Solarnese loyalist opposed to the Spiderlands takeover. Breighl believes Laszlo to be a Spiderlands agent and attacks, forcing Laszlo to kill him. He speeds to Lissart's apartment and follows a clue she left him to a lighthouse, where he finds te Riel dying, learning from him that Lissart has gone to the hangars. At the hangars he finds Lissart setting fire to the new Solarnse aircraft and she attacks and incapacitates him. Reporting to her Imperial Army Intelligence handler, Gesa, Lissart reveals that she knows Gesa is actually a woman and Gesa tries to kill her to protect her secret. Badly wounded Lissart flees but Laszlo rescues her despite her having attacked him and takes her to a Bee-kinden doctor he knows as the Spiderlands forces take over the city. They lay low while Lissart recovers and an uneasy truce settles, until General Tynan and Mycella of the Aldanrael seal a formal alliance and combine forces to march of Collegium. Needing to escape Solarno, Lissart convinces Laszlo to sneak out of the city amongst the combined army's many followers with her.
The Wasp Empire's Eighth Army is put back in the field under the command of General Roder, who is given the chance to redeem himself for failing to take Seldis during the first war. They march against Myna, breaking the Treaty of Gold, and lay siege to the city. The Mynans led by Kymene enact a desperate defence but the Eighth Army's use of new greatshotters, artillery that can launch explosives at a much greater range than leadshotters, brings down the city's walls, creating a breach through which new Sentinel battle-automotives can charge. The Mynan resistance crumbles in the face of this new artifice and Kymene orders a retreat. Along with Stenwold who came to aid in the defence Kymene is forced to flee her city, escaping in a fixed-wing that Myna's desperate pilots defend with their lives as the city falls once more into Wasp hands.
In Collegium Edit