Sequel to Silverberg's fine far-future At Winter's End (1988), a saga about a population of human evolved-monkeys who've emerged from their subterranean ""cocoons"" as a 700,000-year ice age, caused by a bombardment of comets, recedes. The teeming, incomprehensible, insect-like hjjks--survivors from the high civilizations before the ice age--have sent emissaries to the human cities Dawinno and Yissou; these emissaries are actually humans captured years ago and absorbed into the hjjk nest. In Dawinno, the emissary ignites a fierce debate: agree to the hjjks' minatory terms; ignore them; or go to war? Wise old chronicler Hresh counsels caution; his wife Taniance, the chieftain, sends a deputy to Yissou to discuss an alliance. But paranoid King Salaman, having decided long ago to fight the hjjks no matter what, has already murdered his emissary. Meanwhile, Nialli Apuilana, Hresh's daughter, herself once a hjjk captive and thus sensitized to them, complicates matters by falling in love with Dawinno's emissary; the latter is also murdered after founding a seductive and subversive hjjk-cult. War begins; the humans win at first, but then face a bloody stalemate, so Hresh must use his psi-powers and the ancient technology he has recovered to probe the powerful mind of the hjjk Queen to discover how she may be defeated. Lots of complicated maneuvers but little excitement, though the above-average characters help: nothing like the fascinating voyage of discovery that its predecessor was, and a large disappointment overall.