Without revealing anything about how we reach this point, the story ends with Shayla joining forces with the Emperor to hunt down a mutual enemy: the person truly responsible for the Cleansing of Eloon.
At the end of Ghosts, the Emperor has to decide how to deal with Shayla, balancing some extraordinary crimes against the equally extraordinary services that she's performed. He comes up with a combined punishment and reward: lifelong exile to her burnt-out home world, Eloon, but in the capacity of planetary governor. She is charged with rebuilding the planet and establishing a new Freeworld as a refuge for victims of conflict from anywhere in the boundaries of civilization.
In the Emperor's own words, "This would be an ample task to keep the most dedicated and single-minded person occupied for a lifetime. And enough to keep even you out of trouble, I think."
I felt this was a fitting conclusion to the story, with no thought at the time for a sequel. But, of course, this ending is really just a beginning, and is rife with possibilities for proving the Emperor wrong!
The sequel, The Ashes of Home, is still only in rough outline. My thoughts on it are as follows:
Even for an assassin, Shayla Carver has made a lot of enemies. Never mind the two billion she almost killed in revenge for the destruction of her home planet many years ago, they hardly count. More important are the powerful people she betrayed on her journey of vengeance. People with long memories and deep pockets.
So when a pair of assassins ambush Shayla, it is nothing remarkable. Just another attempt on her life.
Attempts on her own life she can handle. She's had plenty of practice. But when Shayla was tasked with rebuilding her shattered home world in atonement for her earlier crimes, she hadn't bargained on the endless bickering, the religious uprisings, attempts to free high profile prisoners in her care ... running a planet is harder work than she'd ever imagined.
And this particular attempt turns out to be just one of a string of seemingly unconnected events which drive Shayla close to madness as she struggles to prepare a fledgling colony for an Imperial inspection.
Then members of her own guard try to kill the Imperial inspectors themselves. Or so it appears. Shayla thwarts the plot, but is summoned to explain matters to the Emperor in person.
Realizing that she is close to losing her home world for a second time, Shayla retreats to the ruins of her ancestral family home. The one place she can be alone to recover her strength. The one place she is truly vulnerable.
Waiting for her there is Cobra. Once a leading member of a terrorist organization whose plans Shayla derailed, Cobra has been stalking her ever since, watching her movements, seeking weaknesses. He's behind the recent events, turning up the pressure, driving Shayla into his clutches...