In this exquisite gem of a novel, Silverberg introduces us to the world of the far future. In this mysterious and only vaguely familiar land, the social order is dominated by the Guilds, who exercise enormous control over the lives of their members, each of whom plays some small part in a grand scheme whose totality is shrouded in the mists of antiquity. Thus one of the main threads of the story is always "How did things get this way?" Silverberg uses the story of a simple Watcher to reveal a long and complex history of Earth's rise, foolish pride, and subsequent fall. The Watcher's job is to search the skies, but why and for what is not immediately clear. Against a backdrop of magic, sunken continents, alien creatures, ancient wrongs and endless wandering around what we would call the Old World (Roum, Perris, and Jorslem), we come to appreciate the Watcher as a human being. In his love for the Flier Avluela and his loyalty to the Prince of Roum, amidst his failures, betrayals, renewal, and redemption, we see a microcosm of the human race's own journey from arrogance to fear to humility and finally beyond. A quiet melancholy pervades this book, as our protagonist wanders among the remnants of Earth's glory years, now decrepit relics. Yet Silverberg finds a way to conclude with the promise of salvation. Despite the unfamiliarity of the social order and the slightly modified place names, the book is easy reading, even for younger readers. There is no over-abundance of action, or of science, either, really, so perhaps this book won't be a favorite of everyone. There is violent conflict aplenty, but much of it takes place "off-stage" so it won't overpower the fainthearted. The mild sexual content is handled pretty much the same way, making it acceptable reading for all but the most sheltered young teens. In short, Silverberg weaves a spell of quiet mystery, timeless beauty, and eternal human values that is sure to entrance.