More hardworking sword and sorcery from the author of the Vale trilogy. The kingdoms of Deva and Vashti have just fought an inconclusive war; now Deva's King Kyrillos sends his young son Kyrem as hostage to King Auron of Vashti. Along the way, though, Kyrem's escorts are variously killed by sorcery-supported assailants--so he soon acquires a more helpful companion in Seda, an orphan-outcast stableboy. Then, in Vashti, Kyrem comes to like and trust Auron, learning that he isn't in fact a hostage--and that the war was provoked by a mysterious Someone: an Old One, last of a vanished race, operating his supernatural powers from a sacred mountain. And when stableboy Seda turns out to be a girl, Kyrem sends her away to safety--but the Old One captures and tortures her, leading to: an attempted rescue; an alliance between Kings Kyrillos and Auron; and further, improbable complications. Disjointed, juvenile fantasy, but with some promising ideas--and fair YA appeal.