Despite the conventional Tolkienesque trappings, this fantasy sequel to The Door into Fire (1979) is energetic--and features several original twists. The royal sorceries which keep the evil Shadow and its minions at bay are weakening from neglect, so the Celtic/Norse-flavored kingdoms of Arlen and Darthen are threatened by hordes of unpleasant creatures. Opposing the Shadow: Freelorn, heir to the throne of Arlen; Herewiss, the land's only male sorcerer; warrior-sorceress Segnbora, who has great powers but cannot focus them; Sunspark, a playful, inquisitive fire elemental. And their adventures are incident-packed--if sometimes inconsistently plotted. Segnbora encounters a dying dragon, Hasai, and finds herself not only in possession of the dragon's personality and memories, but those of his ancestors too. There's an assault on Death's spiral castle to prevent monsters from coming forth. Then Herewiss produces an earthquake to block the pass by which the Shadow-inspired barbarian Reavers gain access to the land. And there's a final showdown with the Shadow and its monstrous armies. Some good ideas and lots of excitement, though confused and talky at times: uneven work, but different and above-average.