Business as usual in churn-'em-out land: Eddings, he of the white-hot word processor, embarks on a shiny, brand-new fantasy even before wrapping up the one in progress (The Malloreon, most recently Demon Lord of Karanda). Fans, then, will discover herein the formula as before, the ingredients somewhat changed and rearranged. After a long exile, the Pandion Knight Sparhawk returns to the land of Elenia to take up his duties as Queen's Champion--only to discover Queen Ehlana sealed in a block of crystal upon her throne, dying from an evil enchantment. The real ruler of Elenia is now Annias, the wicked and ambitious Church Primate. So Sparhawk, accompanied by Sephrenia, instructor of magic to the Pandions, and weird girl-child Flute, she of the strange powers, prepare to battle Annias--only to discover that Annias is being supported by Azash, a powerful, ancient demon of Zemoch. One by one, Sparhawk's fellow knights fall. The good guys' last best hope: the talisman Bhellion, a carved blue stone in whose lore Sparhawk is instructed by the late King Aldreas from within his tomb. Nothing succeeds like success.