Sequel to Tarr's Avaryan Rising trilogy--concluded with A Fall of Princes (1988)--about Mirain the Sunborn and the forcibly united empires of Asanion and Keruvarion. Four generations have passed since Mirain, but Estarion rules Asanion, the western portion of his empire, with unease: his father was murdered there by mage-wrought poison, and so terrible was Estarion's revenge that he expended much of his godlike power. But the rift must be healed, so Estarion will marry an Asanion woman, and learn to understand a people he hates and despises. His lover Vanyi is a mage who knows she must give him up for the good of the empire; his opponents are the secretive and powerful mages of Asanion, and the mysterious Olenyas warrior-clan who guard the throne. Among the Olenyas is Korusan, last of the Asanion royal bloodline. As Estarion is soothed and befuddled by the Asanion mages, so he and Korusan become lovers. Slowly, a great conspiracy emerges: the Asanion mages belong to a hidden Guild that spans the magical Gates between worlds; the conspirators intend to force Estarion through the Gate leading to the Tower of the Sunborn, where Mirain sleeps: woken, Mirain's sun's fire would burn and shrivel Estarion. Even if Estarion can overcome his love and slay the murderous Korusan, Vanyi must still defeat the Guild-mages if Estarion is to survive. Other than the proper names, which sound as if they've wandered in from Tolkien's Beleriand: persuasively produced, thoughtful and modestly inventive, a considerable, newcomer- friendly improvement on the rather stodgy original trilogy.