The second volume of the Valerian Chronicles, Valerius the King, finds Valerius back in possession of his name and the famed power stone, the Eye of Valeria, with which the rightful high king—he who is "Everreigning"—can supposedly see into the future and into the hearts of men. The long festering war between the Iblis and the Kantaran has been settled, Queen Salonis and her brilliant nephew, Koltar, are now his allies, and Valerius is using the Hidden Valley of Kantar as a base to build up his forces and conduct raids on the usurper Fantar's shipping.
But the story opens in distant Valeria, where a dancing girl shimmers before a besotted Fantar, then tries to murder him when he takes her to his bed. Escaping with only the clothes on her back, she finds Thorngere, posing as a peddler while he works his network of resistance operatives and informants. Together, and in love, they return to the Hidden Valley where Vahla meets Colinus of the tiny Kantaran people and learns of the generations-old warfare that almost destroyed his people.
Thorngere finds Valerius depressed from overwork and suggests an outing. In a galley fitted with a new rig invented by Koltar, they sail out through the long tunnel under the cliffs, and soon encounter two of Fantar's galleys escorting a fat merchantman from Dulcai. Faster and more maneuverable, they quickly sink the first galley, but in worsening sea conditions, are rammed by the second. Boarding the enemy as a last hope, Thorngere manages to free the galley slaves—most of whom turn out to be former comrades—and they take the ship.
The merchantman is laden with treasure, intended as tribute to Fantar. Now rich enough to mount a real campaign, Valerius seeks guidance from his Eye stone, but sees nothing. Meanwhile, Vahla seems attracted to Valerius and when he sends Thorngere on a diplomatic mission to his old supporter, King Reuters of Dulcai, suspicion errupts.
Thorngere finds Reuters under increasing pressure from Fantar. Enemy galleys are in the harbor, spies are everywhere, and Fantar's minion, Glaucon, has even taken Reuters' daughter hostage. Thorngere pays Reuters back the money Valerius owed him and heads back to the Hidden Valley, vowing he will ask Vahla to marry him. But Glaucon follows him, and in order to avoid giving away the location of the Hidden Valley, Thorngere sails straight out to sea and discovers a group of islands. Returning to the coast, he finds Glaucon still waiting and now openly hostile. Rescued at the mouth of the cavern by Kantaran galleys, Thorngere returns to find circumstances have altered his relationship with Vahla forever. Taking ship, he disappears into the night.
Valerius and Vahla go into the mountains to consult with the mage Volkmir. Unable to unlock the powers of the Eye, or to advise on how Valerius should deal with his friend, now-seeming enemy, Reuters, Volkmir is of little help. But a sudden prophecy, blurted by Vahla, determines Valerius' decision and leads to a naval battle outside Dulcai, the thrilling rescue of Reuters' daughter, Eomer, the occupation of Kantar by Glaucon, and a major battle for its recapture which brings Valerius to Zagorbia and sets the stage for volume three.
The review of this Book prepared by Tom Rankin