Mary Stewart returns to the Aegean for the scene of her latest novel, which is set in Crete. Although the time is the present, the forces that set the story in motion are as ageless as mankind.
It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove that started it. Nicola Ferris, impetuous, attractive, and on holiday from the British Embassy at Athens, had arrived in Agios Georgios a day ahead of schedule, and on impulse she followed the path of the bird into the White Mountains.
Blithely savoring her independence from routine and the wild beauty of the countryside, she was quite unprepared for the shock of discovering that the bird was indeed a herald of adventure, "the white stag of fairytale, which, bounding from the enchanted thicket, entices the prince away from his followers and loses him in the forest where danger threatens with the dusk. . . ."
For a "prince" she found - one Mark Langley, an assured young Englishman who for bizarre but all too credible reasons was hiding out in the hills. He was less than pleased to have been discovered - and by a determined female, at that - and sent Nicola packing with the order to keep out of his affairs.
This, of course, Nicola was unable to do, and before long events began pyramiding in an alarming, often perilous fashion to a stunning climax among the fishing boats of Agios Georgios Bay.
Mary Stewart, in her magical way, evokes Crete as she has Provence, Northumberland and the Scottish Hebrides in her earlier books. In addition, there is keen delineation of character and an enviable blend of suspense and romance.
—jacket, William Morrow edition, 1962