Choria and older sister Theora are the two princesses--the Makra--in line to rule Sherath. Their kind have ruled for generations, using the Gift of the Makraitis: magical powers that have kept Sherath safe but may taint those who wield them. The present ruler, the Makralo Orinath, fears that Theora has fallen heir to the evil of the gift, so he has secretly raised Choria with more knowledge of power, and more warrior training, than usual. His fears prove out when Theora causes his death and ascends to the throne, beginning a reign of terror. Choria, however, destroys the palace and carries her unconscious sister off, then removes both their powers. Bound by love and hate, the two sisters wander the war-torn countryside, Theora regains her humanity, and Choria restores peace. This is superior sword and sorcery, despite some gratuitous bloodshed. Plausibility is not a strong point of the genre, and there are a few too many convenient witches, wandering noblewomen, and captured heroes. But the writing is graceful, the pace is brisk, and Choria and Theora are vivid enough to hold the reader's interest.