In Mazonia, women rule and men serve, as is right and natural. After all, women are smart, strong, and possess magic. Men, well…they make good slaves. Xylina, while poor, has enough magical power to make the queen very, very nervous. The queen sends Xylina to find a magical crystal–if she dies on the journey, oh well. Xylina is accompanied by her loyal slave Faro and the demon Ware, to whom Xylina owes a large sum of money. Ware is more than willing to…negotiate repayment–too bad that’s against the law!
Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey are both excellent writers, and this is a strong book. While the basic story is the politics of Mazonia and the dangerous journey to find the crystal, where the book really shines is the relationship between Xylina and Ware. While Xylina is a little more open-minded than her Mazonian sisters, she still isn’t used to considering a man to be her equal, and especially not a demon–two strikes against Ware. Ware, devious and manipulative, is even more so when he tells the truth. The book brings up some interesting ideas about gender, relationships, love, and power.