Second part of Foster’s fantasy trilogy (Carnivores of Light and Darkness, 1998) about the self-styled “simple cattle herder” Etjole Ehomba’s quest to fulfill warrior Tarin Beckwith’s dying request, namely that he rescue the beautiful Visioness Thermaryl of Laconda from the evil sorcerer Hymneth the Possessed. Etjole and his companions—the treasure-seeking, garrulous swordsman Simna Ibn Sind, and the huge, talking black cat Ahlitah—must cross the Semordria Ocean, and only in the distant northern city Hamacassar might they find a vessel willing to take them. But, first, Etjole and Simna have to liberate Ahlitah, who’s been captured by exotic-animal dealer Haramos bin Grue. Braving marshes patrolled by mad horses, a valley of flowers engaged in warfare, and a witch-dog that herds lightning, the two reach the Thinking Kingdoms. Here, Etjole summons the ocean to defeat thought-controlling sorcerer-monks, fends off gangs of Hell’s rejects, and drives away vexing insect-monkeys by showing them a mirror that reflects things as they really are. The pair acquire a guide, the man-ape Hunkapan Aub, after rescuing him from imprisonment by villagers who unthinkingly exploit others. Crossing the mountains, Etjole pipes to set the snow dancing and keep them all alive. At Laconda, where fish swim in the air, they tell their story to Count Beckwith. But Haramos, having arrived before them and still intending to grab Ahlitah, has told Count Beckwith a pack of lies—and the count orders the companions to be seized. So Etjole invokes huge air-sharks to deal with Haramos and the count’s guards. Finally, the travelers reach Hamacassar and take passage aboard a ship whose captain is the beautiful red-haired Stanager Rose. But the city’s Gate Masters detain Etjole, and he must plunge through a time portal to rejoin the ship. Non-urgent but splendidly packed with illustrious incidents, not to mention a protagonist who grows steadily more intriguing and enigmatic.