cover image Orc's Opal

Orc's Opal

Piers Anthony. Tor Books, $18.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85107-1

A vast improvement over its predecessor, Chimaera's Copper , this fourth book in the Roundear Prophecy series commands an enjoyable, multilevel plot and some interesting character development. Zady, a witch vowing revenge for the killing of her evil niece, lays a cunning trap by infiltrating a Benign Mages convention and taking over the body of Jon, sister of hero Kelvin. Zady-as-Jon gives cloaks of invisibility to Kelvin's four children, persuades them to steal magical implements and instructs them to use these stolen items to acquire a magical opal from Orc country. The Orcs, scaly and sea monster-like as in times before Tolkien, are not at all peace-loving; the witch hopes that the theft will instigate a war that effectively rids the land of good people while allowing her to gain possession of the opal. A ghost and a dragon must help the children--and several adults--do some rapid growing up. (Dec.)