Onward with the American reprinting of Gaskell's ""Atlan"" chronicles, in which various kingdoms of what appears to be an Ur-South America set out to overrun the holy land of Atlan to the east. (See The Serpent, and The Dragon, 1977; The City and Some Summer Lands still to come.) First to get there is General Zerd--tall, dark, and bigamous--who has had himself crowned Emperor by the innocently welcoming Atlanteans and is now preparing to stave off an invasion from the mainland by his indignant ex-employers, allies, and in-laws. Cija, the diarist-narrator, is now Zerd's Empress and, as usual, up to her eyelashes in calamities--having a son by her half-brother Smahil, scrubbing floors incognito in an inn, bearing a second child to Zerd in the dubious safety of a mad scientist's lair, being cast adrift with her two babes in a rowboat and then taken prisoner by Zerd's vindictive first wife, preparing to stand trial for witchcraft and fornication. . . . In short, things are about as silly as ever; but Gaskell's burbly all-over-the-place writing is starting to hit more often than it misses, and the whole preposterous design is starting to take on a surprising energy.