Jean Rabe, . . Tor, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0820-7

Aimed at a YA audience, Rabe's fun, galloping romp of a story launches a new fantasy series. In the magical land of Paard-Peran, the horse-like members of the Finest Court, the favorites of the gods of creation, look after the "Fallen Favorites," those few humans deemed worthy of their attention. Kalantha and her brother, Meven, are wards of Bishop DeNogaret, a high-ranking priest who's been caring for them since their parents' death. The teenage pair are of royal blood, though they've been brought up as commoners who have no contact with their uncle the king. Now that their cousin, the heir, is marrying, they are invited to the wedding. Traveling with them on their first-ever long journey is a Finest Court shepherd, who helps the two very green youths through some harrowing trials and teaches them to follow their instincts to survive. While the plot at times stumbles into improbability, Rabe (Redemption and other titles in the Dragonlance series) deftly puts some beguiling twists on the guardian-angel theme. The rearing steed on the jacket will signal young horse lovers that this is a book for them. Agent, Frank Weimann at the Literary Group International. (Nov. 1)