Once the garden of the Goddess Lyr, the land called the Ryft lies blackened and desolate, destroyed by true evil. It is here that the child Alnosha came to learn of her ability to divine by touch. Now, the fugitive Kryn has come to Ryft, and although he mistrusts Alnosha's powers, he is drawn to her--for he has been chosen to serve as her sword and champion.
From the Publisher
In the crowded firmament of contemporary fantasists, no star shines brighter than Andre Norton - a dazzlingly inventive crafter of otherworlds and wonders, and past recipient of the World Fantasy Convention's Life Achievement Award. And now the Grandmaster returns with the riveting tale of two courageous young adventurers...and their perilous quest for light. The blackened and desolate land called the Ryft was once paradise - the magnificent garden of the goddess Lyr. But that was lifetimes ago - before an old and crafty evil descended upon the world. While still a child, Alnosha came to this ruined place of dread and despair. And here, under the loving guidance of the forgotten goddess' last priestess, Alnosha first discovered and honed her extraordinary hand-talent: the ability to divine by touch. Now another has come to the Ryft - an embittered High Born youth, outlawed and pursued by the villainous servants of a false god. Though he hates and mistrusts all mystical powers, the fugitive Kryn is inexplicably drawn to Alnosha, the Gifted One. And together they embark upon a strange and perilous odyssey that will lead them from the broken lands to the savage city...and into the malevolent heart of an all-consuming darkness. For ancient hands that once held the bounty of the sun are guiding their every step - shattered hands that Alnosha and her reluctant champion must restore at all costs...or face a hopeless and terrifying future eternally trapped in evil's thrall.
From The Critics
Norton ( Brother to Shadows ) will please her fans with this fantasy about a girl with psychic powers who combats an ancient evil with the aid of an embittered young noble. In a blighted valley called the Ryft, the waif Alnosha, called Nosh, is taught by the wise woman Dreen about the beneficent power of Lyr, which once made the valley flourish. Meanwhile, the youth Kryn, witnessing the downfall of his father at the hands of a malevolent priest, barely escapes with his life. The priest's minions enter the Ryft, and Nosh flees with Dreen. The girl exhibits a newfound talent for reading the history of jewels, including the now-scattered crystal fingers of Lyr, which, if found, could destroy the real enemy, the wizard Razcan. Nosh and the skeptical Kryn meet and join forces, narrowly avoiding many dangers on their search that will provide salvation for many. Norton once again creates a mystical yet credible world, inhabited by engaging protagonists, dastardly villains and fetching creatures--particularly the reptilian zarks. (June)
Norton, one of the first women sf/fantasy writers with the selling clout to match the Asimovs and the Heinleins, expands her impressive oeuvre with this tale of a fledgling priestess on a dying planet.