It goes without saying, but MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR EVERY BOOK…
The first Prologue outlines the slaughter of the hero Agartes Allaicras’ family at the hands of the Dageians. We see Agartes’ pain as he realizes that not only has he lost his children, but that his memories of them will also fade in time. We learn of the beliefs of his people governing the afterlife, and are invited to remember that “The true story, as always, is in the details.”
Kefier is a young man simply trying to figure life out on his own terms. Banished from his village for an accident involving his brother, he was taken as a slave by Dageian mages and it was only because of the help of a mercenary, Oji, that he was able to escape. But Oji’s well-meaning action causes Kefier much strife—the other mercenaries treat him as an outsider, blaming him for causing Oji to fall from grace in the officers’ eyes. And Kefier himself is resentful that Oji treats him like a child.
He attempts to gain control of his life by taking a job behind Oji’s back. It is a simple enough task involving the delivery of a letter, to be taken during a separate job Oji was entrusted with. Unbeknownst to Kefier, he is being tested for his response—or lack thereof—to a creature that one of the mercenaries’ clients has been growing in the abandoned mines, one which they have been feeding with children taken from villages throughout the land. Even just exposure to its slime can cause madness in some, and people have different levels of responses to it—mercenaries that can withstand its effects are particularly valued by this client.
Kefier reacts to the creature, but in an entirely different way—he hears it speaking in his head. Combined with the mild claustrophobia he had picked up during his time as a slave and his tendency to panic when surprised—something Oji and the other mercenaries have been careful with during his time with them—he stabs Oji and kills him.
Sume is Oji’s sister—a young woman in her teens who has been responsible for her father and the young family Oji left behind when he left to seek his fortune as a mercenary. For the last year, the money Oji has been sending them has stopped. She doesn’t know why, but she travels to the mainland in order to work as a seamstress.
She meets a foreign dockworker and strikes up a friendship with him. Something about the dockworker is familiar, especially with the way he speaks Jinan exactly like how her family does. Only later does she learn that he is Kefier, who was once the young boy her brother took under his wing—driven by guilt after his murder of Oji, he escapes to the city, where he gazes out at the sea to the island where Sume and her family lived, trying to muster up the courage to admit what he had done. Sume learns that Oji is dead and that Kefier is wanted by the other mercenaries.
It seems as if Kefier caused more deaths after the events in the mines, when he kills the officer who gave him the job—his actions cause a chain reaction that results in the deaths of many of his and Oji’s companions. The mercenary who takes him prisoner, Gaven, blames him for everything. While in town, a traveller overhears Kefier’s story, and realizes he was once acquainted with him back in Kefier’s old village, when they were still children.
The traveller meets a client of the mercenaries and explains his concerns for Kefier—the client assures him that everything is taken care of. It turns out that this client is Ylir, a merchant and associate of a big company in the Kag—Yn Garr Industries. One of the secrets of the company involves their attempt to revive a creature from legend—the exact same one that Kefier encountered in the mines.
Ylir uses the creature’s slime and his own skill with enchantment in order to coerce Gaven into setting Kefier free. It is an experiment that works; Kefier wakes up on a cart heading to safety. Ylir, in disguise, even hitches a ride with him in order to leave him a gift—an blanket imbued with a “look away” spell that later protects Kefier from the mercenaries who are now after him in cold blood. It also protects him from an encounter with a creature in the forest, one of the many that plague the wilderness and were left behind by the same witch who created the more powerful one that Yn Garr Industries is trying to revive.
Kefier attempts to return to the nation of Jin-Sayeng and Sume—though he doesn’t think about what he’s done, the guilt drives him and is about the only thing he has left to live for. But with mercenaries at his tail, he decides to go through the mountains to Gaspar, the nation bordering Jin-Sayeng.
He comes upon several spells that take him to a kusyani village. The kusyani are an ancient people of those mountains, and Kefier learns that the elder has been hosting a part of the creature within himself. He learns that this particular creature is difficult, almost impossible, to kill, and that it was separated into several pieces by mages before being sealed away. Each “part” can grow individually. The elder kusyan, with his strong connection to the agan, is able to destroy his part with his death. The act brings forth a surge of agan which calls back the past Kefier has been trying to escape.
As Kefier leaves the village, he encounters two mages who have been trying to learn about the witch and her creature. Events unfold, and they finally stumble upon the mercenaries who have been struggling to control the creature—which proceeds to eat a dragon and gain its power and form. The mages take Kefier to their home, where he learns that they’ve been tasked with keeping an eye on this creature and its individual parts to make sure it never returns to the world.
While all of this has been happening, Sume finds herself in the service of Ylir in exchange for her nephew’s life after her nephew attempts to steal from the merchant. They journey to Gaspar, where Ylir—despite taking an interest in Sume—sells her as a concubine to a powerful Gasparian lord, in exchange for support in Yn Garr Industries’ activities in the region. Sume, realizing what such a position could do for her family, decides to carry through with it, but Ylir changes his mind at the last moment and attempts to “rescue” her.
He injures himself and she ends up rescuing him and nursing him back to health. She forms a relationship with him during this time until Ylir’s master Yn Garr returns to remind him of his duties. Angrily, he joins up with the mercenaries, where he learns that they are currently attacking the mages where Kefier is staying.
The leader of the mages takes Kefier aside and forces his memories out of him, back to the day when his brother has an accident. We learn that the accident occurred because Gorrhen yn Garr arrived at their village and took the creature from the temple—then a single eye, no bigger than a box—along with Kefier’s brother Enosh. The mage reveals that Ylir was Kefier’s brother all along, and that both of them are descended from a mage, Jaeth, who had been tasked with the part of the creature hidden in their village. Enosh has been keeping an eye out for Kefier, but his own selfishness means he has been more interested in his own affairs than reuniting with his brother.
The mercenaries and the mages clash. In the ensuing chaos, Kefier escapes with Sume and her nephew Dai. Gaven—now a shell of a man, half-mad from the creature’s influence—tries to stop them and injures Dai during the process. Kefier manages to defeat Gaven, but before he dies, the mercenary reminds him that he was the one who killed Oji.
The story picks up months after Jaeth’s Eye ends. Enosh is still trying to bring the creature back under control with the help of Sapphire, one of the mages who is now supposedly working for him. Enosh is too obsessed with his goals and goes as far as to blame Sume for leaving him. He feels as if he has slipped, and his master doesn’t hesitate to remind him of his failures. As they build up, Enosh makes one mistake after another, starting with the escape of the leader of the mages that he had been holding prisoner, and then later allowing himself to fall into a trap set by a Gasparian lord, one meant to take all of his money and use his influence as a merchant for their own political maneuvering. He spends years in prison, which gives him time to engage in self-reflection.
In the meantime, Kefier, Sume, and Dai journey back to Jin-Sayeng. Sume is heavily pregnant with Enosh’s child and gives birth along the way—she has tried to reconcile Enosh in the months after the battle with the mages, but he has been ignoring her in his arrogance. Kefier, without revealing that the father of the child is his brother, takes over as the child’s father, finding a semblance of meaning in this act even as Sume wrestles with her own feelings as a mother.
Sume and Kefier grow closer as a result of raising her daughter together, ending in a night which Kefier regrets, on part because he feels like he has overstepped his bounds. Sume also learns more about her father’s past as a “hero” who helped bring a new caste into Jin-Sayeng, and finds herself as a confidante for the uncrowned Dragonlord of Jin-Sayeng—incidentally, the same traveller Kefier and Enosh had once encountered as children.
Prince Rysaran, as he is otherwise known, has been trying to find a dragon just like the Dragonlords of old—he believes that his weak reign is a result of not having a dragon to call his own. He learns of a creature that fits such a description being transported near the Jin-Sayeng/Gasparian border, and tricks one of the warlords into taking it for himself. The warlord makes the mistake of taking the creature back to his keep before setting it loose…the creature goes on a rampage, destroying his entire city and killing his children. The warlord himself goes mad, and Sume feels the effect of the creature herself.
Rysaran convinces himself that this “creature” is a dragon he can tame. She is unable to stop him and watches as the creature takes flight and destroys yet another city before disappearing.
During this time, Kefier discovers that his adopted daughter, Rosha, has a connection to the agan. Yn Garr takes a special interest in Rosha and has her stolen. He explains to Kefier that he means to make sure that she is schooled properly—particularly important because the creature is trying to kill her through the agan fabric in her dreams because she is Enosh’s daughter and the creature is afraid of Enosh. He coerces Kefier in assisting his plans, starting with his murder of the former leader of his mercenary group.
Kefier, while unwilling to bloody his hands, do it out of love for his daughter, who has become his purpose for living in all these years—he sees parallels of his love for her everywhere he goes.
He assumes control of his old mercenary group despite their initial misgivings. He and Sume reunite, where Sume tells him about everything that had happened in Jin-Sayeng and how the creature’s escape means it has become more powerful than ever.
They decide that their best chance is to locate Enosh, who has been quiet all these years after being framed by the Gasparians for murder of their king. He is now in the custody of Dageians, including Sapphire, who has still been attempting to carry out her duties to protect the world from the creature all this time. Kefier and Sume argue over their future and his persistent fears that she and Rosha will leave him to return to Enosh, which culminates in Kefier admitting to her that he was the one who killed Oji, ending their relationship.
After an accident involving an airship, they manage to find Enosh’s location. A testy reunion with Sume later—who he feels abandoned him, just as she is aware she was just a passing fancy of his—they agree to work together and get to one of the creature’s parts before Yn Garr does.
However, just as they find it, Kefier betrays them, as he feels that Rosha’s best chances lie in him continuing to work with Yn Garr. Sume disagrees, thinking that they need to find Rysaran and the creature first in order to keep Rosha safe. After a big battle between all parties, Kefier returns to Yn Garr and Rosha, while Sume joins forces with Enosh and Sapphire.
Side arc: The prologue of Aina’s Breath shows the last day of King Hyougen of the Shi-uin people, whose final sacrifice involved casting a spell that covered his entire land in ice. This prevented the Dageians from gaining free access to the agan wells the Shi-uin have managed to keep secret all these years.
In truth, the Dageians invaded because of Gorrhen yn Garr of Yn Garr Industries’ involvement. The Shi-uin had also been housing one of the creature’s parts. The resulting catastrophe caused Yn Garr to abandon his plans for the meantime and go to the islands of Gorent instead.
Out of the many survivors of the disaster at Shi-uin included Hyougen’s daughter, Princess Mahe, and Izo, the blacksmith’s son, whom Hyougen tasked with protecting his daughter.
After Prince Rysaran disappears with the creature Yn Garr had picked up from Gorent and was nurturing all these years, he decides to try Shi-uin again, sending Kefier to shadow the remaining Enji mages’ plans. Mahe and Izo’s presence allow them to unearth this piece, which Kefier takes and gives to Yn Garr.
Side arc: Sapphire is descendant to the mage who helped seal away the parts of the creature in the first place. To be precise: she is the bastard sister of the leader of the Enji mages. Her father’s influence allowed her and her sister to be schooled in Dageis. After the destruction of Enji at the hands of Yn Garr, she “assists” Enosh even as she tries to find ways to stop Yn Garr’s plans from coming into fruition.
Side arc: Prince Rysaran is the only son of the Dragonlord Reshiro. Reshiro Ikessar brought many strange ideas to Jin-Sayeng, one of which included embracing trade with the Kag and elevating merchants up in ranks into becoming their own caste, the “alon gar”. He was assassinated when Rysaran was a child.
Rysaran blames his father’s “weak rule” to the lack of a dragon…he thinks that posession of a dragon—at least, a strong one—is tantamount to gaining Jin-Sayeng’s respect as a Dragonlord, as in the olden days. He refuses to be crowned unless he finds a true dragon and spends years travelling for his quest, neglecting his land in the process. The warlords of his land find this detestable, with his biggest critic being Warlord Yeshin Orenar of the Oren-yaro.
He tricks Warlord Yeshin into obtaining the creature for himself to test his loyalty. Yeshin fails, and his treachery results in the destruction of his own home and the death of many of his people, including his own sons. Yeshin, for his part, blames Rysaran’s pride.