Scott and Barnett's (previous collaboration, the paperback The Armor of Light, 1987) medieval fantasy world has two suns; magic works here, as does astrology. In Astreiant, the time of the Midsummer Fair approaches, heralding the ``starchange,'' a crucial astrological conjunction that bodes a reordering of the royal succession. Children, however, are mysteriously disappearing, and ``pointsman''--a medieval policeman, sort of--Nico Rathe is assigned to find out why. The suspicions of the powerful Butcher's Guild focus on the Old Brown Dog inn, whose owner, Devynck, and protector (``knife'') Philip Eslingen, are both ex-soldiers and Leaguers--the League having fought a war with Astreiant 25 years previously. After Philip is forced to kill a hotheaded young Butcher, Nico finds him another job with the merchant Caiazzo; maybe Philip will also spy for Nico. But then Nico discovers that some of the missing children have been seen in the company of certain unfamiliar black-robed astrologers. The children, so Nico and Philip eventually learn, have been enslaved by a megalomaniac ``magist'' who, by accumulating ``magistically'' active gold, intends to remake the world to his own desire. Reasonably persuasive overall, but slow--the authors dawdle through entire chapters where a sentence or two would have sufficed --with a rambling, unbalanced plot. Still, readers in no particular hurry will find plenty to divert them.