"The Paths of the Dead" is Steven Brust's long-awaited sequel to "The Phoenix Guards" and "Five Hundred Years After."Two hundred years after Adron's Disaster, in which Dragaera City was accidentally reduced to an ocean of chaos by an experiment in wizardry gone wrong, the Empire isn't what it used to be. Deprived at a single blow of their Emperor, of the Orb that is the focus of the Empire's power, of their capital city with its Imperial bureaucracy, and of a great many of their late fellow citizens, the surviving Dragaerans have been limping through a long Interregnum, bereft even of the simple magic and sorcery they were accustomed to use in everyday life.Now the descendants and successors of the great adventurers Khaavren, Pel, Aerich, and Tazendra are growing up in this seemingly diminished world, convinced, like their elders, that the age of adventures is over and nothing interesting will ever happen to them. They are, of course, wrong . . . For even deprived of magic, Dragaerans fight, plot, and conspire as they breathe, and so do their still-powerful gods. The enemies of the Empire prowl at its edges, inscrutable doings are up at Dzur Mountain . . . and, unexpectedly, a surviving Phoenix Heir, young Zerika, is discovered--setting off a chain of swashbuckling events that will remake the world yet again.