Even more delightful than Riley's A Vision of Light (1988), the medieval saga/morality tale/jape to which this is the sequel. Again there's that beset and God-gifted, rebellious young woman, Margaret, who doesn't use her healing powers very much these days, since the Inquisitors promised to bum her to a cinder if she persisted, ""and that is a great discouragement."" Also reappearing is that reluctant scribe, failed monk, and poet, ex-Brother Gregory, revealed as the nobly born Gilbert de Vilers, ""snobbish, obnoxious and witty as the devil."" At the start, Margaret is newly widowed and newly wed. Her late beloved husband, merchant Roger, is now a chilly but warmhearted ghost. The generally awful Sir Hubert de Vilers and his equally depressing first son, Sir Hugo, having killed off the family after Margaret's fortune, marry her to second son Gregory Gilbert, who's glum about it all--ex-Brother Gregory feels uneasy after the thrilling heights of theology. Eventually, Margaret discovers she loves Gilbert, but he's captured in France by an archfiend, a Count who uses baby corpses as a ""fixative"" for his alchemist, among other nasty things. Margaret takes a danger-flecked route to London (with her two little daughters by Roger) and finds old friends--midwife Hilde and Malachi, the ultimate alchemist and brilliant fabricator. All adventurers will meet at the castle of the wicked Count: Gilbert, dying in a pit, but still refusing to take back his critique of the Count's dreadful poetry; Malachi, one of two dueling alchemists in the Count's lab; the Weeping Lady, a testy ghost and Margaret's mother-in-law; Sir Hugo, frantically attempting to have a curse lifted; Hilde; and Margaret, who plays the Count with loaded dice before the great escape and more adventures on the road. Among the targets of Riley's merry, faintly hortatory tale: the shining knight (truly a knothead); mystic texts (""The Book of the Secret"" is an inanity of codes and dirty pictures); and, of course, class (a laundress becomes a lady). There is an interlude about divine and human love, but, in all the gentle fun, it blends nicely. Grand adventures at a jolly clip.