With Morgon--Starbearer and The Riddle Master of Hed (1976)--having vanished while seeking his destiny on Erlenstar Mountain in the first volume of this trilogy, focus shifts to Raederle, Morgon's fiancee, who journeys north to find out what has become of him. She never reaches Erlenstar, finding herself instead involved in controlling the increasingly frightening powers she has inherited as a descendant of the shape-changer Ylon. Raederle's heritage ""of sea and fire"" puts her in direct contest with the powers Morgon represents. Evidently there is a great, ancient war shaping up anew between the sea and the long-dead Earth-Masters, but neither this nor the role of the evil wizard Ghisteslwchlohm is at all clarified. The unanswered riddles begin to annoy rather than intrigue, and readers unfamiliar with the first volume will be hard put to believe that this sourpuss Morgon is the Starbearer for whom anyone in the realm would give his or her life. McKillip maintains a steady hand with her characters and a stately sense of humor, but as the lines are drawn for the final battle--wizards imprisoned for centuries as trees or pigs have been freed and dead kings bicker like children over old battles--she has yet to define her basic themes.