By Andre Norton.
You know, after reading several Andre Norton books (she's dead now, by the way), some things become apparent: The heroines are all women. They all have a mystical artifact or special magical gift. They always win. The endings are kind of weak.
The exception was Empire of the Eagle, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
This one seems even worse than usual: it was a struggle for me to read it. The descriptions of what happen are never very clear and I think she might have been trying to achieve subtlety and ambiguity, but what comes out is much more annoying than, for example, Patricia McKillip's sublime and dreamlike prose.
The names seem trite and uninspired. A quarter of the narrative is about a character that it's hard to feel anything for. I don't know what to say; even though I read it, I can't really recommend it.