Doorstopper new fantasy from the author of the Book of Words trilogy (Master and Fool, 1996, etc.). Tinnitus sufferer Tessa McCamfrey finds a remarkable barbed ring. When she puts it on, its points pierce her finger--and the pain transports her to another world. Here, Tessa will meet new people and enjoy various adventures involving the cruel and insanely ambitious King Izgard of Garizon: He wears a magic crown, the Barbed Coil--a larger version of Tessa's ring!--that helps its wearer win wars. In this world, too, illustrations--complex illuminations like those of medieval manuscripts--exert magic effects. Amid various subplots, the old scribe Ederius paints illustrations that transform Izgard's harras troops into relentless beast-warriors. Fortunately, Tessa's own scribing talents help counteract Ederius. Both crown and ring, she learns, are ""ephemera,"" magical objects that tumble in and out of reality. An ancient and mighty illumination binds the crown, preventing it from falling away into another world. So, somehow, Tessa must scribe an even mightier unbinding illumination to free the Coil and allow it to vanish, thus frustrating Izgard's dreams of conquest. Sparkling ideas embedded in vast swathes of conventionally inflated mediocrity: Fans of the previous trilogy should feel right at home.