In this first of a new fantasy series, three fencing-team college friends -- Torrie Thorsen, his girlfriend Maggie Christensen, and Ian Silverstein -- will spend spring break at Torrie's home in Hardwood, North Dakota. But no sooner are they greeted by Torrie's parents, Thorian and Karin, and mysterious uncle Hosea than the town is attacked by werewolves. Unaffected by normal weapons, the wolves abduct Karin and Maggie and take them down a magic tunnel to Tir Na Nog. Torrie and his father, long prepared for such an eventuality -- Torrie's father, a master swordsman, years ago fled Tit Na Nog, along with uncle Hosea and a bag of gold -- follow the werewolves down the tunnel, while Hosea -- large, powerful, dark-skinned, plainly not a blood relative -- invites Ian to accompany him along another route. As they'd expected, Torrie and Thorian are captured and conveyed to the stronghold of the Fire Duke, where both will be forced to serve as duelists at the Fire Duke's pleasure. Now Torrie realizes that they're simply bait, with Hosea as the real target. Why? Well, Hosea is an old one, one of the Norse gods who built the Fire Duke's city and imbued it with innumerable secret passages; moreover, he's the key to the whereabouts of the seven scattered jewels of the Brisingamen necklace -- an object so powerful that its owner can remake the universe to his own wishes. A vast improvement on the tiresome Guardians of the Flame yarns (most recently The Road Home, Feb. '95), combining a firm, practical grip on reality with an effective blend of Irish and Norse mythologies in a taut, gripping narrative.