Routine sword & sorcery from the cartoonist and author of the paperback Rosinante series. The wizard Dr. Wizenbeak and his troll-bat, familiar Gruchka, are chosen by Queen Shaia of Guhland (the King is ailing and ineffectual, and refuses to name a successor) to spearhead an attempt to colonize the empty, waterless altiplano; Wizenbeak, an expert dowser, has just completed a survey and knows where aquifers underlie the desert. Meanwhile, Prince Kahun intends to become King (Shaia's young son Dervian is a strong rival), so he allies himself with the Church and institutes a vicious witch-hunting campaign aimed at discrediting the Queen--who is, in fact, a witch. Kahun's younger brother Gatsack--the other rival--takes Shaia's side, and soon, after Kahun's henchmen attack the palace and murder the Queen, a full-scale civil war is in progress. So the amiable Wizenbeak must intervene--he employs a Shaia look-alike to good effect--and eventually sort things out. A pedestrian and mediocre adventure, from the well-articulated if unsurprising plot to the talky, overlarge cast; the various elephantine attempts at humor don't help. Still, in these days of abject Tolkien imitations and other horrors, that translates as: not too bad.