Part II of The Winter of the World trilogy, magical doings on a planet undergoing the pangs of glaciation. Young magesmith Elof, recovering from wounds sustained at the end of The Anvil of Ice (1986), has reforged his magical black sword. But the evil Ekwesh invaders won't go away; new allies are needed. So an expedition--Elof; warrior and regal heir Kermorvan; various corsairs and foresters--is organized to march east through the perilous Great Forest in search of the ancestral homelands. Our heroes are at once beset by Ekwesh, then rescued by duergar (dwarves); Ils, a young duergar princess with a soft spot for Elof, joins the band. Various members of the expedition perish at the hands of the usual beasties and dangers. Later, after Elof defeats a powerful forest-spirit that seeks to enchant them, they emerge from the forest. Halting every so often to say things like, ""No man has passed this way for many long years,"" they finally reach the eastern cities--which are already occupied by Ekwesh, with traitor Bryhon in charge. Kermorvan inspires the easterners to rise up against the Ekwesh, and kills Bryhon. Meanwhile, Elof endures a violent confrontation with his lost love Kara, and prevails by casting forth the evil spirit that dominates her. Disappointingly drab, inane plotting and dramatics, after the promising Vol. I. Even worse, the prose has degenerated from merely inert into the bloated, stilted, pseudo-archaic twaddle beloved by far too many purveyors of heroic fantasy.