Feist (The King's Buccaneer, 1992, etc.) returns to the enchanted world of Midkemia to begin a new series, The Serpent War Saga. A blacksmith's apprentice in the town of Ravensburg, young Erik von Darkmoor faces his most pressing problem: how to endure his mother's annual public confrontation with his father, the Baron, and her insistence that the Baron recognize Erik as his legitimate heir. Life becomes considerably more complex when Erik and his friend Roo avenge the rape of a friend by killing Erik's half-brother, the Baron's chosen heir. Fugitives, Erik and Roo are captured and sentenced to die but are spared at the last minute and impressed into an elite fighting corps composed of equally desperate men. Their mission is to move against the conquering army of the Emerald Queen, an army of mercenaries led by the Pantathians, reptilian creatures with magical powers. Erik's company of 60 men is to infiltrate the Emerald Queen's seemingly invincible army, ascertain any weaknesses, and report back to the King of the Western Lands. The company is aided in their task by the intervention of magicians, the leadership of elves, the ingenuity of various members of the company, and a fair amount of luck. Fast action, appealing characters, and a splendid setting will delight readers of fantasy and leave them eager for the next battle.