Andre Norton, Sasha Miller. Tor Books, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0747-7
At the outset of this fourth book (after A Crown Disowned) of the Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan Cycle, Ashen NordornQueen and her husband, Gaurin NordornKing, expect to take a much-needed rest from their travails against the Great Foulness that earlier beset their kingdom, but instead they discover they must face further adventures and danger. The royal pair, along with their infant son, have settled into the castle of Fire and Ice in the NordornLand, looking forward to taking their place as beloved monarchs. For their coronation as co-regents of Rendel, however, they receive a gift which launches their next perilous journey: Ashen must find and dispatch the dreaded Mother Ice Dragon who, if roused, would do far more damage than the Great Foulness. Meanwhile, back at the palace, intrigues are afoot. The formidable matriarch, the Dowager Queen Ysa, returns to her meddlesome ways, and Gaurin accepts a new family member into his household, a half-brother who might not be who he seems. The story continues along predictable lines with the requisite happy outcome, though Norton and Miller leave room for another installment. The plot is tepid and the characters rather simplistic, but the story is an amusing and easy read.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2005