Young King Kelson of Gwynedd leads his army to suppress the revolt of Caitrin, who is a pretender to his throne. Meanwhile, his uncle, left in charge of the country, faces an assassination plot of other ancient enemies who seek to seize control in the King's absence. In addition to outward problems, Kelson is also struggling with inward onesgrief over the murder of his bride and acceptance of the political necessity to mete out justice to his enemies even when justice sometimes resembles murder and revenge. He also has a growing need to bring the psychic Deryni race back to the honor and respect they formerly possessed. This second in "The Histories of King Kelson" trilogy, following The Bishop's Heir (Ballantine, 1984) is dark and grim in tone, containing rape, torture and summary execution as punishment for those crimes. However, dealing with those crimes and passing sentence on the malefactors are all steps in hardening a 17-year-old boy into a king who commmands the love and respect of his followers. Readers of The Bishop's Heir and the two other Deryni trilogies (Ballantine) will be anxious to follow the adventures of Kelson and his close circle of family, friends and advisors.