Routine post-nuclear fantasy and Noel's hard-cover debut. Long after a nuclear war, society on the island of Calavairn (Baja California) supports two groups of psi-powered leaders, at the monastery and at the university. The monastery houses the Stone, an object which, when attended by the psi-powered Speaker (a sort of pope), yields the Word, detailed predictions on which the stability of church and society depends. And some progressives at the university are studying the psi powers themselves. But now an evil force (""darkspell"") has invaded and corrupted the Stone; Speaker Jeshe is found crucified. And so detective Wolf from the Peace Office is called in to investigate the death. The malefactor, unfortunately, has extremely powerful ""kindlewitch"" abilities and has plans to rule the world. Wolf, however, will be helped by the ambitious but talented Sister Aurelia who, as the new Speaker, will probe the Stone with the psi abilities that Wolf lacks. This is all competently wrought, but prettified to an unreal degree (for instance, men and women live and work side by side in the monastery without a hint of sexual tension). The upshot: solid but blandly uninspired.