The book starts off with Rose reading the last in a series of love letters/death threats from Dimitri. The final exams are set to start in short time and she resolves to stay focused and pass them to the best of her abilities and hope it will be enough for her to get assigned to Lissa. The teachers test her by having her trapped on a swinging bridge with Strigoi approaching on both sides, which she passes by cutting the bridge, then "killing" the opponents on her end.
After Abe's network relayed a message from Victor Dashkov that there was nothing he could be bribed with while he was behind bars, Rose plots with Lissa and Eddie to break him out of his high security vampire prison. They successfully do so by disguising themselves as guardians bringing new feeders and relying heavily on Lissa's compulsion abilities. Victor agrees to lead them to his brother, Robert, a reclusive spirit user who is rumored to have once returned a Strigoi to their original state.
They travel to Las Vegas, where Adrian tracks Rose's credit cards and follows them. While not very pleased with Rose's continued endeavors to help Dimitri, he stays with them. Robert tells them that the Spirit user must infuse a stake with Spirit and kill the Strigoi on its own, but escapes when they are attacked by Dimitri and other Strigoi. They manage to escape and upon their arrival at court Eddie and Rose are punished for endangering the Moroi and sent to do physical labor. While they are occupied, Lissa and Christian are kidnapped by Dimitri as bait for Rose.
Deciding to kill him for good and eliminate a threat to Lissa, Rose leads a group of guardians to his hiding place. She fights her way over to him and is about to kill him when Christian encircles him in a ring of fire, effectively cutting all movement while Lissa stakes him. Dimitri is restored as a Dhampir and taken into custody. Traumatized and crushed by guilt, he pushes Rose away, saying that he is no longer able to love. Rose turns to Adrian for comfort.
The next morning at breakfast, Rose and Dimitri run into each other. Dimitri sees the bite marks and knows who they come from, he knew Rose was going to move on. In the middle of the discussion, a group of Guardians surround Rose and Dimitri instinctively fights to protect her, but she calms him down. The Guardians announce that Queen Tatiana has been found murdered with Rose's stake and as such she is to come with them. At the ensuing hearing, it is decided that Rose must face an official hearing. If she is guilty, she will be sentenced to death. On the way to wait for the impending trial, Ambrose delivers a note to her from Tatiana saying that Lissa needs to have her voice heard in the Council and that there is a second living Dragomir, necessary for Lissa to have her quorum.