Wrapping up the Dragon Star trilogy (Stronghold, 1990; The Dragon Token, p 24). High Prince Pol, Sunrunner and Sorcerer, is told in a dream that he must lose yet another of his castles, so he allows the invading barbarian Vellat'im to occupy Skybowl, hoping there to confine and defeat them. But first Pol must reach an agreement with Andry, Sunrunner Lord of Goddess Keep, who thirsts to slay the invaders in violation of his Sunrunner oath. A further complication: The invaders capture Meiglan, Pol's wife, so Sioned (she's Pol's mother) and a handful of Sunrunner women companions go off to try to rescue her. The rescue attempt fails, but Sioned impresses the Vellanti High Warlord with her indomitable courage; Sioned does manage, however, to frustrate the Warlord's intention to stage a horrid public ritual aimed at inspiring his troops, by poisoning all the Vellanti priests. In retaliation, the Warlord pierces Sioned and her companions with steel, thus preventing them from using their powers. Andry, meanwhile, swears to obey Pol but, when the crunch comes, doesn't--and pays accordingly; finally, with a supreme effort of sorcery and Sunrunning, Pol wins the showdown battle--though the price is Meiglan's life. All this sounds more convincing in summary than it does padded out to more than 700 blubbery pages. Another major drawback is that the cast of thousands will go to almost any length to avoid taking action: they'll exchange news and family gossip, reminisce, tell stories, discuss future plans, mull over bits of lore, put the kids to bed, demonstrate small magic skills. At least Rawn has abandoned incomprehensible introductions in favor of a simple list of who's dead and who's not, equally unhelpful though it may be. Dedicated fans only.