Another of Modesitt's yarns about the continuing struggle between black-magic Order and white-magic Chaos (The Magic Engineer, p. 104, etc.). Here, the White wizards and armies of Fairhaven, intent on conquest, attack Sarronnyn, whose ruling Tyrant appeals to Recluce for help. A handful of volunteers, including young engineer Justen and his Weather Wizard brother, Gunnar, win tremendous victories for the defenders. Still, despite these heroics, Sarronnyn is overwhelmed. Justen, having invented a method of twisting order into chaos, flees through the desert to Naclos, where he must learn from the druids how to achieve a true Balance between Black and White, before resuming his crusade against the White aggressors. After a plodding start, things soon pick up, and there's one major improvement: Modesitt has--finally- -ditched his auto-destructive present-tense narrative.