Another yarn with a portentous but essentially meaningless subtitle: the first of a trilogy from a veteran paperback author making her hardcover debut. The two worlds of Glandair and Iomard are linked, and swing near every 700 years; at such times the flow of magical Pneuma reaches its height, while chaos disrupts the lives of ordinary folk. To restore order to both worlds, a young single man of Glandair, destined to be the Hero, must absorb the full Pneuma flow, then redirect it. Young Cymel of Glandair has great but untrained magic powers; her father, Ellar, a Watcher, chronicles magic goings-on and assesses the various Hero candidates; her aunt, Corysiam, a Scribe of Iomard, has the ability to walk between worlds. After seeing Hero candidate Lyanz in a dream, Cymel forces Corysiam to him from drowning. Meanwhile, various Mages, both openly and in secret, are contending to place themselves--or their candidates--at the Pole of Power and thus seize control of the Pneuma. What with a cast of thousands, hundreds of scenes, dozens of plots, and no attempt at even a token ending, it's all very hard to follow. Clayton's assured, original handling of magic and its consequences will warm many hearts, but the rest is deeply unsatisfying. The question remains: Will readers find it merely confusing and irritating--or sufficiently intriguing to come back for more?