Yet another fantasy tetralogy commences, with this murky, lumpy, YA-ish Tolkien-gothic. Willful young Fiona sneaks out of her dreary orphanage to follow a falling star and meets Dame Cracklecane, member of an ancient witch-cult, the Mark, with her lover, the Marl of Harrow. Fiona learns that she has great magical power, but she doesn't know how to use or control it. And Dame Cracklecane, under the influence of the evil Helskarth, plans to enslave poor Fiona--using her to reawaken the old powers of the land. Finally, however, Fiona will triumph: Dame Cracklecane, casting off Helskarth when she sees Fiona's dreadful suffering, is wounded in hattie with Helskarth's monstrous minions. . . and, with her dying breath, she gives Fiona the help and protection she needs to work her magic safely. Tangled plots, hollow despite the hardworking background chat, and bogged down in florid description: overdone and mediocre, but still a good deal better than the unspeakable Rajah (1979) and Koren (1981).