Another offbeat fantasy from the author of Tourists, A Mask for the General, etc. (her American Book Award-winning paperback debut, The Red Magician, will appear as a Tor hardcover in February 1993). In the Elizabethan England of 1590, widowed London bookseller Alice Wood struggles to make a living while vainly searching for vanished oddball son Arthur. Meanwhile, Oriana, the Queen of Faerie, arrives in London also in pursuit of Arthur--because he's actually King Arthur reborn, and must choose which side to support in a forthcoming magical showdown. Various complications come to light: Spy/playwright Christopher Marlowe (for it is he) stumbles upon a sinister plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, and thereby comes into conflict with the alchemist followers of Oriana's opponent, the Red King; Alice and her friend Margery, a witch and confidante of Oriana's, are also threatened; dreamy Arthur reappears, only to be captured by the Red faction. Finally, Faerie troops, dragons, and humans (except Marlowe, who's been murdered right on schedule) assemble for the battle. A puzzling and bizarre mixture: Faerie figures and magics impinging upon historical characters doing more or less what the history books say they did, not to mention King Arthur. Goldstein fails to establish any reason, let alone a compelling one, why these disparate elements should be juxtaposed; and though her prose is of the finest, the upshot is flat, bland, and far from persuasive.