The world of Ea is an ancient world settled in eons past by the Star People. However, their ancestors floundered, in their purpose to create a great stellar civilisation on the new planet: they fell into moral decay. Now a champion has been born who will lead them back to greatness, by means of a spiritual - and adventurous - quest for Ea's Grail: the Lightstone.His name is Valashu Elahad, and he is destined to become King. Blessed (or cursed) with an empathy for all living things, he will lead his people into the lands of Morjin, into the heart of darkness, wielding a magical sword called Alkadadur, there to recover the mythical Lightstone and return in triumph with his prize. But Morjin is not to be vanquished so easily.
David Zindell's short story Shanidar was a prize-winning entry in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. He was nominated for the 'best new writer' Hugo Award in 1986. Gene Wolfe declared Zindell as 'one of the finest talents to appear since Kim Stanley Robinson and William Gibson -- perhaps the finest.' His first novel, Neverness, was published to great acclaim.