This is the third book of the Orokon pentalogy (after The Harlequin’s Dance and The King and Queen of Swords, and before Sisterhood of the Blue Storm and Empress of the Endless Dream).
The story takes place in the southern country of Unang-Lia. In Kal-Theron, the capital, the son of Sultan Kaled, young Prince Dea, is put through rites of passage by his tutor Simonides, preparing for his upcoming marriage to Princess Bela Dona, daughter of the Sultan's brother and ruler of the southern city of Qatani, Caliph Oman Elmani. Alas, the Princess has been cursed by Simonides’s brother, the Teller Evitamus, and is shimmering between two half images, Bela Dona and Dona Bela. Only Oman and his Vizier Hasem know about the Princess’s condition. She must be restored to her whole self before the Sultan and Dea arrive.
Continuing his quest to find the five crystals of the Orokon, Jem is travelling with Rajal and Lord Empster to Unang-Lia on Captain Porlo’s ship, the Catayane, when suddenly a ray of green light appears. Jem vanishes… and is replaced by Cata! She will accompany the crew to Qatani and befriend the Princess.
As for Jem, he finds himself teleported to a strange dreamland created by Almoran the enchanter, brother to Simonides and Evitamus.
Other protagonists include Faha Ejo and his band of thieves, a mysterious girl-boy named Amed, and Eli Elo Oli the whoremonger. And of course Polty is still lurking around, looking for Cata.
Even though it wasn’t boring per se, I found this volume a little too long and the story not really heading anywhere for many chapters. I was entertained by the couple of funny references to Arabian Nights, such as a genie in a magic lamp and a flying carpet, but annoyed by the lack of progress in Jem’s quest, which was stalled for about three quarters of the book. So far, I find this series somewhat low on suspense, which probably explains why it takes me so long to read it.