This smoky mix of magic, legend, people both mythic and real, and the ancient savageries of war supplies a chronological link between Bradley's The Forest House (1994), set in first-century Britain, and her Arthurian saga, The Mists of Avalon (1983). Here, again, is Avalon, seat of the Goddess Mother religion, its artifacts crafted by those Old Ones from Atlantis. This time, the High Priestesses, hounded by male-dominated Christianity, wrestle with their powers as they see visions and seek out incarnations of the Sacred King who will save Brittania. The boy Gawen (introduced in The Forest House) will be raised in Avalon by the High Priestess Caillean--it is she who magically separates Avalon from the world outside--saluted as the true ""Son of a Hundred Kings,"" be given a miraculous sword, and ritually unite with his beloved Sianna (none other than the daughter of the Faerie Queen). Gawen is killed by Romans but will appear again in other incarnations to fulfill his destiny as Defender of Brittania. The next Incarnation--the future Emperor of Brittania, Carausius--is discovered by the High Priestess Dierna, who should be his Queen/Bride but mistakenly arranges a marriage for him with one who would help in his defeat. Vortimer, son of the High King, is the third to swear to save Brittania's ancient ways and freedom. There are flights and pursuits, carnage on land and sea, sacred artifacts (cup, lance, etc., later to be Christian symbols), shuddering visions, and plenty of travel between real and magical worlds. A treat for the savvy initiate, and intriguing for Arthurian buffs, but others may find it too cloudy by half. Go with the flow, though: The prose is as smooth as those sacred stones on which so many interesting things take place. Bradley also includes helpful lists of people and places and a map.