Not quite a sequel to The Sorceress and the Cygnet (1991), but set in the same intriguing fantasy world, and with some of the characters in common. Meguet, cousin of the sorceress Nyx, stands guard outside a council meeting at Ro Holding when a powerful sorcerer gains entry to the chamber. Although lacking magic herself, Meguet somehow is able to resist the sorcerer's spell--as is Nyx. The sorcerer, Rad Ilex, is searching for an ancient object of enormous magical power hidden, unsuspected, somewhere in the castle. But Nyx will not let Rad search without knowing what it is he hopes to find. Later, a magical firebird arrives, his fiery breath transforming people and things into jeweled trees, his outcries painful to hear. Then, in the moonlight, the firebird regains human shape, as his victims regain their forms. He is Brand, and--though he remembers little- -heir to the remote kingdom Saphier, which is ruled by his half- dragon father, Draken. Rad, returning, fights with Brand, is wounded, and flees, taking Meguet with him. Nyx, meanwhile, locates Rad's object: a magical key that contains the spells of the supremely powerful dead mage, Chrysom. So Nyx must travel to Saphier to find Meguet and resolve the mysteries of who ensorcelled Brand, why Rad and Draken are enemies, and what Rad and Draken really want, the latter apparently intent on awakening all the dragons slumbering in the eerie magical desert, Luxour. Often charming and inventive, but the plot runs out of steam about halfway through. Rather a disappointment after previous high standards.