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A first hardcover in which a love affair of erotic discovery and passion is staged against a background of horror and ancient rites in 12th-century Wales--and brought to a gripping conclusion in a chase through fantastic underground caverns. In the Prologue, two small children, the boy Mychael and his twin sister Ceridwen, are lost in the caves beneath the castle of Cam Merioneth as their mother, descendent of a priestess, is about to perform a rite to ""open the door between worlds."" But then death and horror arrive in the terrifying person of the vicious Caradoc, ""the Boar,"" who kills all and becomes the new lord of Cam Merioneth. The children are whisked away by a Druid's daughter and sent to be raised in the homes of devout Christians. When she's mature, Ceridwen is affianced to Caradoc but flees into the forest, where she's captured and taken to the Castle Wydehaw. There, she's derisively tortured and displayed. The sorcerer Dain, who works his ""magic"" in a tower of the castle, has no interest in Ceridwen but hates Caradoc, and so rescues the girl and begins to heal her. Mutual uninterest, even dislike, evolves into a fascination with the delicious complexities of each other. Onward, then, comes Caradoc. A ruse, planned by Dain, derails his pursuit, and the pair escape, on the way becoming lovers in some luxuriously steamy scenes. The chase is lengthy and studded with such elements as: the strategy and antics of the allied ""Quicken-tree"" people, of ancient (perhaps faerie?) origins; struggles through caves of ice and utter darkness; fantastic beauty and horror; the pryf (giant sea worms); and a magic door leading to the sea. By the close, there have deaths of varying nastiness (how about being ground between walls and a pryf?)--and a lovers' escape. A heated romance and chase in a splashy, scary setting. And those pryf are a gas.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Bantam