First entry in a prequel fantasy trilogy or series--anyhow, not self-contained--from the British author of the paperback Time Master trilogy. On a world ruled by Chaos, whose gods sometimes visit through the Chaos Gate, human affairs are ordered by the magi from their black castle on Star Peninsula. It's a rule that is cruel, capricious, and oppressive. Now, a new First Magus, the mad, sadistic Vordegh, has just been appointed; so, according to custom, Captain Benetan Liss of the Chaos riders will lead his demon-mounted horde forth to capture a new crop of young, healthy servants for the castle. To his dismay, Benetan finds that one of their victims is the fair Iselia Darrow, a former flame. Amid a welter of plots, whispers, agreements, deals, favors, and arrangements, Benetan guiltily schemes to shield Iselia from the horrid rites to come and persuades wily historian Savrinor to accept her as his mistress. Moments before being grabbed, Iselia had been wed to honest Kaldar, a self-taught sorcerer and secret devotee of the Order god, Aeoris, who promises justice and peace and for centuries has been banished from the world by the Chaos god, Yandros. Kaldar flees into the far south, where he will strive to open a path for Aeoris to return. Capably crafted but insufficiently unusual to attract much notice in an already severely overcrowded scene.