A fluttery, tentative reworking of the Arachne myth, complete with a vaguely Minoan Greek backdrop--from the author of The Prince of Morning Bells. Remote, obsessed Arachne is hereditary ruler of Island and its sentient sacred Grove, whose presence gives her an ecstatic sense of cosmic oneness. The Grove is also home to blind golden spiders, source of the fine silk woven by Island's noblewomen. But the Grove is dying; so Arachne's brother and co-ruler Jaen resolves to sail to other islands in search of a cure. He returns with some venal, hypercivilized Theran traders and nobles, whose hope is to loot Island of its valuable silk. Led by Arachne's estranged husband Kyles, the Islanders prepare to defend the Spider Stone, heart of the dying Grove. But as the Grove expires, the spiders suddenly become poisonous; Arachne's son Pholen is bitten and dies; no longer opposed, Jaen and the Therans take the Stone. . . but the Stone's secret remains inviolate, the Grove renews itself, and Arachne realizes that cosmic oneness is alien, not meant for humans. Breathy, frail parable-weaving, at best patchily engaging.