Elements of myth, Slavic folklore and original fantasy are skillfully mixed with poetic imagery to create a truly stunning and original work of the imagination. A scholar cat tells the story, interweaving the tales of Chingis, child of a slave woman, raised by a witch to be a Woman of Power; Safa, the Czar's son, locked in a tower room from birth because his father and aunt fear he'll steal the throne; and the forces of evil: the Czar, the Czaritsa and Kuzma, a very powerful Shaman who fears the growing talents of Chingis. When Chingis rescues Safa, Kuzma allies himself to the Czaritsa Margaretta, who has ascended to the throne at her brother's death. He murders Chingis and imprisons Safa. Chingis, however, finds a way to escape from the ghost world to destroy Kuzma. The powerful climax places her in the Palace of the Czars, where she, in the body of Kuzma, engages in an epic and bloody struggle with Margaretta. The outcome of the battle is both surprising and satisfying, as is an epilogue occurring 500 years later. Price, familiar to American readers for The Devil's Piper, written 11 years ago when she was 16, has grown into a hypnotic storyteller who laces her work with delicate cynicism. She uses vivid imagery, as well as effects occasionally uncompromising in their brutality. Never less than clear and accessible, her story flows, told by a master. A find for lovers of folklore and fantasy.