A quest in the grand tradition of cruel relative, unsuspecting prince, half-forgotten prophecy, half-lost talisman--and no hidden meanings. ""Alas, alas, the sorrow of the world"" groans Lord Hilarion, the laughing lord with weeping eyes, wounded too badly to live, surviving in his devotion to the quest for the living prince. Trad, ten, saves the injured stranger from his malevolent grandfather, takes him for healing to the Wise Woman. The lord has lost his memory, only recalling that he must go to The City; he and the boy make their way as lutist and dancer, falling in with a Juggler who proves more courageous than his own cowardice. Trad has fortuitously found, the rings--silver hidden in the gold--and has the oddly colored hair which marks his lineage, yet believes Hilarion to be the king until the denouement. Disguises, swordplay, near-discovery, danger, intrigue keep the pulse high; suspense and confusion as the boy and the lord slowly discover what the quest is demand a fast reading pace. Unfailing story magic from a tested bag of tricks.