Eugenia, the niece of the new, tyrannical Emperor, observes a battle against the rebels. It does not turn out as anticipated. She decides to manipulate her captor, Telamon, to regain her freedom, but manipulation is a two-edged sword.
When First We Practise is set in an imaginary world based loosely on a classical Greek milieu, though transported to a northern temperate zone and with women playing a much more independent role than in classical antiquity. It is the third of a series of ten novels that cover a period of about seventy-five years.
It is set two years after the conclusion of What Dreams May Come, during the Mykerenaean Rebellion against the tyrannical rule of the Troian Emperor Laomedon. After freeing Mykerenos, the rebels are preparing to advance from their mountain fastnesses through the Boreas Pass and into the Central Plain.