Sequel to the mediocre Rider at the Gate (1995), set on a planet where human colonists have bonded with native telepathic, carnivorous, quadrupeds confusingly and lazily called "horses." As winter deepens, young rider Danny Fisher and his horse, Cloud, attempt to escort three young people--the only survivors of the massacre at Tarmin--up the steep, slippery slop of Rogers Peak to the village Evergreen: smith Carlo (his guilty secret is that he killed his violent father); his younger brother Randy; and their younger sister, the comatose Brionne (her misapplied bond with the rogue horse caused all the trouble). At Evergreen, Danny, unsure of their reception, evades difficult questions; and he suspects that they were followed up the mountain by a riderless horse, another potential rogue. Indeed, certain villages prove hostile until they realize that Carlo will inherit several properties in Tarmin. Brionne, hating her brothers and still desperate to bond with a horse, slowly recovers physically if not psychologically. Danny and a local rider, Ridley, halfheartedly attempt to hunt the loose horse, but eventually the beast bonds with an astonished Carlo. Meanwhile, another, unknown, creature--a stalker with the terrifying ability to hide and misdirect telepathically, thus far kept at bay by Carlo's horse--enters the village, bonds with crazy Brionne and begins to slaughter the inhabitants. Only by heroic efforts will Danny and the other riders manage to drive it off. An overlong and underpowered entry that clearly needed a strategic regroup or a rethought approach; only in the last few pages does anything new or stimulating emerge.