For the region that gives its name to the novel, see Thousand Cities.
|The Thousand Cities|
|Cover artist||Michael Herring|
|Series||The Time of Troubles|
|Preceded by||Hammer and Anvil|
|Followed by||Videssos Besieged|
Abivard has been forced to abandon the conquests he made in the westlands of the Empire of Videssos due to one of Sharbaraz's policies that set Vaspurakan aflame in rebellion. He has slowly been losing faith in his sovereign, who has gone 'soft' in his eyes and suspects of him wanting the throne for himself.
When he is summoned to Mashiz, instead of listening to the King of Kings' displeasure as he expected, Abivard is informed that the Videssian Avtokrator Maniakes II has invaded the Makuraner heartland, driving straight towards the capital via the Thousand Cities. He is dismayed to know that the only thing he has to stop the Videssians are few garrison troops.
The war soon turns into a bogged-down fight between the canals that irrigate the Thousand Cities. Abivard fights the Videssians by making the canals flood the region and pinprick raids. The Avtokrator sacks any town he comes across, to repay the damage the Makuraners caused in Videssos' western lands. The two sides are roughly even and highly mobile and when they meet they rarely defeat each other. This causes the war to dissolve into a stalemate, with the casualties list growing long each battle or skirmish.
But soon Abivard is reinforced by another cavalry regiment, against Sharbaraz's orders. This ensures numerical superiority to the Makuraners. It becomes Maniakes turn to retreat and try to delay the Makuraner host, sorcerously or otherwise.
The Makuraners soon defeat the Videssians in a battle near the Tib river, causing the latter to flee. Their pursuit is held up by magic and so abandoned. The Makuraners winter in Qostabash and prepare for the inevitable campaign next year.
The book ends with Abivard returning to Mashiz, a semblance of a hero. There he is briefed of the Makuraner plan to defeat Videssos, using boats made out of hollowed out wood by the Kubratoi who are now allies. They will attack Videssos the city itself. All the while Maniakes, who is known to be planning to attack Mashiz again, will be held back by an infantry host.