First of a fantasy series from an author noted for his military science fiction (Patriots, 1996, etc.). One day scholar Garric rescues a strange old woman from the sea; a wizard of feeble powers but deep knowledge, Tenoctris became entangled in a mighty enchantment a thousand years ago and was hurled through time. Later, a representative of King Valence shows up: Procurator Asera, along with the powerful but ignorant wizard Meder, seeks Sharina, not Garric's sister as everyone had thought but actually the daughter of nobles; she must be conveyed to the royal city Valles. Healer, hermit, and former warrior Nonnus agrees to accompany her. Garric, meantime, accepts a medallion from his father and is visited in dreams by Tenoctris's King, Carus, whose heir he may be. Next to arrive is the drover Benlo, another powerful but unschooled wizard, and his beautiful daughter Liane; Garric and his friends agree to travel with Benlo to meet the latter's mysterious sponsor. After numerous dreadful adventures, both groups will converge at Erdin for some explanations, and yet more puzzles. Shapeless and meandering, agreeable rather than compelling: hardworking but minor league.