Amalric Antero, hero of The Far Kingdoms (1993), is the younger brother of this sequel's leading character, the rough, tough, lesbian captain of the Maranon Guard. Hitherto denied a proper warrior's job because of her womanhood, Rali leads her all women Guards in a counterattack upon the powerful and irascible Archons of Lycanth. She slays one Archon, but the other escapes with a doomsday spell that threatens the entire world. Aided by the wise wizard Gamelan, Rail pursues the vanished Archon, meanwhile uncovering within herself unexpected magical abilities. Finally, after the usual strange journeys, battles, betrayals, reverses, and lopped body parts, the showdown occurs in the Archons' sorcerous Iron Castle on the spirit plane. In sum, the recipe much as before: imaginative, prolonged, pedestrian, and about as subtle as a runaway train.