Magic and battle flourish as Safar Timura, great wizard and hero, is pursued by his former friend, now nemesis, Iraj Protarus, who has come back from the dead as a wolven shape-changer. Safar must lead his people to safety from their native Kyrania; secretly, he is also following a vision from the master-wizard Lord Asper and hoping to stop the blight affecting his world. In his quest, he is aided by Leiria, a female soldier; Palimak, a half-demon, half-human child whom Safar is raising as a son; and Khysmet, the perfect steed whom Safar was destined to find along the way. These and a variety of striking secondary characters journey through the ensorcelled land of Caluz on their way to a new home in fabled Syrapis across the sea. Not only Iraj, but others, such as the circus-troupe Safar joined as a youth, return; but even so this second volume in the series remains very accessible to new readers. The book strikes a good balance between action and character development and provides a rich mixture of demons, sorcery, swordplay and political intrigue. Cole also manages more moments of real horror than most fantasy writers while still hitting the high notes of wonder, romance and fellowship. (Mar.) FYI: A sample chapter will be bound into 127,000 issues of Realm of Fantasy magazine.