In a style that's most charitably described as pseudo-Biblical (characters are always ""sore afraid,"" and the like) Murphy subjects readers to a long-winded confrontation between Virtue and Vice. With the aid of a mystically empowered runestone, the telepathic Children of Ynell, led by wiseman Anchorstar, a young goatherd named Thorn, and his plucky girlfriend Zephy, try to rout the warmongering Kubalese who, in cahoots with the authoritarian Cloffi leaders, are about to take over the nine other nations of Ere. As the genre demands, there is a prophecy--only half fulfilled at book's end; a quest for the lost runestone; and a few perfunctory battles. Yet despite a considerable amount of carnage (the double-crossing Kubalese massacre the citizens of Cloffi), the whole production is bloodless. Murphy mistakenly believes that by referring to all sorts of made-up flora and fauna, she is creating an exotic, atmospheric ""otherworld,"" and she wastes far too many pages taking the Children on tiresome and seemingly purposeless treks across mountains, through caves, and down tunnels. The band finally winds up in the free nation of Carriol. Is their questing over, Zephy asks Thorn. Not by a long shot. According to the jacket, there's going to be plenty more where this came from.