Volume II in The Histories of King Kelson trilogy following The Bishop's Heir (1984)--itself an addition to a longstanding series about the Haldane kings of Gwynedd, a land inhabited by sometimes magically-endowed humans and psi-powered Deryni. Series veterans will recall that Kelson, teen-age king of Gwynedd, is faced with a major rebellion in Meara. So, leaving his heir Nigel in charge--after awakening some of the latter's magical abilities--Kelson leads his armies into Meara in pursuit of the aging pretender-queen Caitrin. In the north, Mearan armies commanded by the maniacal Lofts continue to evade the Gwynedd opposition led by Deryni bishop Duncan and his son Dhugal. In the south, the young prince Ithel pursues a scorched-earth policy as he withdraws before another army headed by Kelson and Deryni warrior Morgan. Along the way, Ithel pauses to loot, rape, and pillage, despite the fact that his own people are the victims. Outraged, Kelson captures and summarily executes him. But then Lofts draws Duncan into a trap, captures him, and proceeds to torture the bishop while demanding confessions of heresy--after administering a drug to suppress Duncan's Deryni abilities. Meanwhile, at home, Nigel must face a separate threat from another direction. Despite an exceptionally slow start, then: a solid, involving, sometimes exciting addition to an agreeable if never exceptional series.