Max was transformed into an extraordinary warrior by a witch named Giselle over thirty years ago. Because she's bound by Giselle's spell, Max must fight as her Prime ShadowBlade and protect her at all costs. She's really good at what she does but her bitterness and hatred of Giselle lives within her all the while she's fighting on her behalf.The story begins when Max is dispatched by Giselle to another witch's territory to find out what was amiss. Max is seen by the witch's Prime ShadowBlade, Alexander, and Giselle is challenged as a result, pitting the two Primes in a lethal match. All the while, it is clear that something even more lethal is underway, possibly being perpetrated by the ancient Guardians, and it will take unknown and extraordinary measures for the world as they know it to survive.I struggled with the beginning of this book (about the first 70 pages) as it was filled with quite a bit of repetition of Max's bitterness towards Giselle. While it probably could have been handled better, it did do its job in preparing me for what comes later in the story. The world created here is one of the more diverse and creative I've read in quite some time. Life isn't easy for anyone and tensions seem to be a high as part of the norm. The romantic tension between Max and Alexander is also interesting as Francis used a technique that allowed some scenes to be replayed from both of their perspectives. The end of the story couldn't be more exciting as the weight of the situation is placed squarely on Max's shoulders and she delivers.I'm glad I stuck with this story and do plan to continue. This is urban fantasy at its finest.