First fantasy novel and evidently the first of a series, from the author of various romances (as Laura Leone). For a thousand years, the mountainous island of Sileria has been occupied by various conquerors, first the Moorlanders, then the Kints, now the Valdani Empire. Young Mirabar, one of a dwindling number of Guardians who work fire magic and talk to the dead in the Otherworld, is tormented by visions and commands from the mysterious Beckoner. Despite her awe- and fear-evoking flaming eyes and hair, Mirabar must seek out a certain warrior, and also somehow achieve a union of fire and water magic; only with these can the Valdani be defeated. But the Guardians are traditional enemies of the waterlords and their assassins. Elsewhere, swordmaster Tansen and rebel outlaw Josarian meet and become blood brothers, united in their desire for freedom. Unfortunately, Tansen is involved in a blood feud with the ruling waterlord, the wizard Kiloran. Tansen and Josarian succeed in battle against the Valdani Outlooker troops, but still Mirabar must persuade Kiloran to set aside the feud. Also key to the developing alliance is seductive courtesan and superspy Elelar, who warms the bed of the Valdani commander and once was tutor to young Tansen before he committed the murder that earned Kiloran’s enmity. Prodded almost to desperation by the relentless Beckoner, Mirabar must weld the alliance together to defeat the Valdani. But there will be another, equally draining, struggle to come as Kiloran, casting aside all pretense at amity, seeks his long-delayed revenge. Well handled and modestly engaging, but soapy and predictable—and too long-winded for real surprises.