The Shining Ones

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Book One of the series, DOMES OF FIRE, Sparhawk and Ehlana responded to a call for aid from Tamul, and once there, helped to put down an insurrection. Discovering that the Minister of the Interior is a traitor, they are holding him prisoner inside a replica of an Elenian castle within the Tamul capitol, Matherion. Taking refuge with them and under their protection is the Tamul emperor, Sarabian.

In Book Two, the Child-Goddess Aphrael, incarnated as Sparhawk and Ehlana’s daughter, Danae, uses her powers to help Sparhawk recover Bhelliom, a jewel of immense power that is sought by both gods and humans. As Sparhawk learns to use Bhelliom to transport himself and his companions around the Tamuli empire, they are approached by members of the dread race called the Delphae, or Shining Ones, whose touch is death. The Delphae with to bargain: They will help uncover the conspiracy and fight Tamul’s enemies if Bhelliom will seal their valley off from other peoples forever. Although Sephrenia, the Styric High-Priestess of Aphrael, hates and distrusts the Delphae, the bargain is made, and the future leader of the Delphae, Xanetia, accompanies them back to Matherion.

Through Xanetia’s ability to read minds, the conspiracy is uncovered and the companions are shocked to learn that their Styric advisor, Zalasta, has been using both gods and humans in his attempt to possess Sephrenia, whose life is dedicated to serving Aphrael. Zalasta escapes and sends the Trolls to attack the Atans, guardians of the Tamul empire, and Sparhawk must bargain with the terrible Troll-Gods imprisoned inside Bhelliom to save his friends. While he triumphs over Zalasta in the far north, the remaining conspirators kidnap Ehlana from Matherion.