Award-winning Alexander's stories have often taken inspiration from Welsh mythology. This time, an imaginary epic is the pivot for an adventure set in a not-quite-possible kingdom on the Adriatic 100 years ago. Vesper Holly, 16, orphaned by the death of her scholar father, welcomes his lifelong friends, Professor Brinton Garrett (Brinnie) and his wife, who come to Philadelphia to provide for her future life. But Vesper is determined to go with him to Illyria to fulfil her father's dream of proving that the Illyriad, an epic poem presenting the country's mythology, is rooted in history. Brinnie soon is provisioning an expedition to Illyria. Nothing is an obstacle to Vesper, a brilliant, fearless and determined young woman. It quickly becomes apparent that the wars between the Illyrians and the Zentans, both indigenous ethnic groups, are as alive in 1872 as they were in mythological times. It is also clear that the two warring kings of long ago had intended to make peace and that a treasure was involved. When Vesper and Brinnie explore the ruins of King Vartan's castle, they find the treasure that would have been the token of peace. Vesper makes peace by showing the two leaders in her own time that their ancestors would have settled their wars had it not been for deception and unwillingness on both sides to be the first to forgive and give up the quarrel. A truly exciting story, it carries the reader along to a triumphant conclusion and the hope that Vesper may have another adventure before she settles down--perhaps in Illyria, where she seems to have left her heart.