First volume in a projected trilogy: dogged warrior Ryke and his dispossessed master Prince Errel struggle to wrest back their home, Tornor Keep, from the hands of southern usurpers. Sounds ordinary. But the warlike implications of this story are continually undercut by other emphases. Col, the southern enemy, is a lively and complex person; Norres and Sorren, the bold messengers who help Ryke and Errel to escape from his service, are lesbian lovers; and the settlement which shelters them is a bucolic commune defended by no military means other than the practice of something akin to the Japanese martial arts. Unfortunately Lynn fleshes out her design--the gradual emotional re-education of Ryke--with an over-deliberate austerity that leaves her world, ""Arun,"" barely imagined as a civilization, and makes her criticism of ""masculine"" assumptions too transparently didactic. Still, an extremely interesting attempt to find an alternative to the usual macho mindlessness of fantasy-adventure.