As the exciting new fantasy novel THE RING OF FIVE DRAGONS opens, 101 years have passed since Miina, Goddess of Kundala, last spoke to her people. In that time, Kundala has been conquered by an alien race known as the V'ornn. These aliens are technologically superior to the spiritual and meek Kundalans, who are kept as slaves by the V'ornn. The people are treated terribly and are frightened, and many have converted to the V'ornn's religion --- both to appease their masters and because they think Miina has abandoned them.
Bartta, a Ramahan priestess, is disgusted and full of hate over the way her people have reacted to their enslavement. The V'ornn religion is particularly distasteful to her as it doesn't worship a Goddess. The mere thought of her fellow Kundalans converting makes her blood boil. But Bartta, although spiritually evolved, has become a twisted, bitter woman and, thus, can't see a way to help her people. She has special reason to hate the V'ornn: her twin sister Giyan (also a very talented healer) was kidnapped by a V'ornn when they were 15 years old, their mother died a few years later, and their father converted.
Head of one of the few remaining Goddess Abbeys in Kundala, Bartta is willing to do anything to keep it safe, including passing on information about the Kundalan resistance efforts to the V'ornn. Bartta believes that everything she does, she does for the Goddess and to locate and protect the long prophesied savior of the Kundala. This liberator is known as Dar Sala-at, born at both ends of the cosmos at the same time and the only person who can restore hope and the Goddess to the oppressed Kundalan people. Bartta knows she and her sister are meant to locate and protect Dar Sala-at, but how can she do it alone?
Still another story line deals with the masters of the V'ornn themselves. Unbeknownst to the Kundala, their oppressors are under the thumb of a militaristic race of aliens who have both the power of magic and the aid of technology. They are called the Gyrgon and they are on a quest to find the source of the Kundalan's spirituality and healing powers. This evil plan will lead them to The Ring of Five Dragons and to Bartta --- but with dire consequences.
Twists and turns abound in this rousing fantasy story. As it is the first book in a planned series, THE RING OF FIVE DRAGONS is chock full of information and characters. The mixture of technology and fantasy will delight readers tired of the old conventions of both genres. The many layers of the story never become overwhelming, and readers will be engrossed in the mythic world that celebrated author Van Lustbader has created.
Reviewed by Katherine Coynor on July 14, 2002