Neil Scott has heard his business partner Gwen's tales of otherworldly delight and dangers in the game Tolemac. Seeking an outlet for his grief over his mother's death, he becomes The Unknown, a mysterious man whose loyalty remains secret inside the fantasy game Tolemac Wars.

The game's reality is much harsher than expected when Neil—known in Tolemac as Lien—saves Ardra of the Fortress of Ravens from an attack. His good deed costs him though, for his plans to be a rich merchant in the game are ruined and Neil must claim to be a pilgrim, or be treated as a slave.

Once again, Ms. Lawrence creates the vivid, unique world her fantasy fans expect, sprinkled with familiar characters and one who enters/exits the game at will. Neil and Ardra's psychic connection and Neil's reaction to evil is left unexplained, though. We can't help but admire Ardra's many sacrifices, but the resolution to this ancient conflict between Tolemac and Selaw may disappoint. Still, an excellent read and not easy to forget! (Jul., 366 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Anne Black