Characters nearly drown in a stew of myth-like archetype in this ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying fantasy novel set in a semi-medieval world. Dean tells a coming-of-age story about Nelson, the son of Sir Daenan of Craeghedd. In visions, father and son learn that they are related to the supernatural figures Ravennetus and Allisyn, and that their worldly enemies carry on the work of Barthol, Ravennetus's supernatural nemesis. Worldly and otherworldly political intrigues abound in the three kingdoms of Dor, Interossa and Maasen. Raston, the banished son of the King of Dor, has become King of Maasen, backed by the evil Barthol and helped by his evil agent, Sira Mufti. The good guys include King Daos of Interossa, whose daughter was killed shortly before she was to unite the Kingdoms of Dor and Interossa against the threat of Raston by marrying Baldir, Raston's younger brother. There are chases, rescues by humble peasants, battles, more chases, visions, deceit (mostly by Sira Mufti) and double crosses. But all the twisting plot lines are hostage to a very simple message that Nelson learns about the power of forgiveness over vengeance, and in the end Dean forsakes the power of drama for the satisfactions of the sermon. (Jan.)
Barthol and Raston's attempt at world domination, the secret of which is known only to Ravennetus, the deceased leader of an archaic order of priests, is at the center of this multifaceted, complex tale of medieval intrigue. The two men believe the secret is hidden within Daenan Craeghedd of Dor but find that it is yet unawakened in Craeghedd's son, Nelsyn, instead. In an attempt to release this power, they send Nelsyn on a journey to find his powers so that they might manipulate him for their own evil designs. But during his quest, Nelsyn meets Ravennetus, who teaches him how the secret of world domination can be used for the good of all people. Although the convoluted plot will be difficult for many readers to follow, this fantasy, grounded in medieval lore with religious overtones, will find an audience in that group of adolescents who gravitate to Dungeons and Dragons and other complex fantasy role-playing.