Mel, receiving only part of her water powers from her guardian, Rukia, is prevented from merging fully with her guardian by the cloak of Arussha, she receives some of the powers she should be granted, but her soul is partly taken over into the forces of general Uro by his foremost warrior, Acidulous. At the same time, Mel feels that Acidulous is just as much a victim of his own current form as she is because she realizes that something is wrong with him.
Mel is sent into battle against her friend, Naomi, who wields the powers of fire and the guardian known as Suzaku. She and Mel face off against each other, but their conflict is inconclusive. Mel can't defeat Naomi, and Naomi can't free Mel. Naomi leads the Umli people from their home to the sea, where they meet up with the Aqami. Their leader, the Bard, is injured and dying, but they hold off the invading forces long enough for the rest of their people to flee. With the old Bard dead, the Bard's granddaughter, Irenu.
As Irenu sings the songs of mourning for her grandfather, Mel makes the joining with Rukia, and claims that only she can defeat the forces against Uro. But at the same time, she is lying, hoping to rescue whatever person came before Acidulous, and flee with and release him from the ties that make him fight for the general. To be trusted, though, the other warriors on Uro's side demand that she meet and defeat one of her friends in battle.
Back with the tribes, Jim, Doug and Naomi are clad in the robes of their respective tribes, and discover how unique Satorin really is. When they first arrived on this planet, he could control earth, but it is now apparent that water obeys him as well, and so do all the elements. In a world where each tribe can only manipulate and call one element, Satorin is unique. but he doesn't know WHY he has all these powers.
During the council with the elders of all the clans, it becomes clear that the forces of the General can't be defeated simply by being reactive. The forces of this world will have to go on the attack and bring the attacks to the general. General Uro wants to destroy the pillars of the world, and get the Bolirium so that he can rule all the worlds. But which pillar will he attack next, and can the warriors from Earth and their guardians defeat him? And can Mel free the person who became General Acidulous when he won't listen to her or believe anything she says? Why does he call himself "We", and will Mel be forced to defeat one of her friends to be able to free Acidulous and protect this world?
I have to say that this series is beginning to remind me a bit of Fushigi Yugi, and Magic Knight Rayearth as well, with its talk of pillars and the guardians being based on the 4 Japanese guardians, including Suzaku. Okay, the others aren't Byakko and Seiryuu and Genbu, but I get the feeling that the guardians are all based on the animal spirits of the directions. Suzaku being south. And MK:R for the whole "Pillars" thing. Of course, this may just be because they are all based on the same set of legendary beings, and some of the same concepts.
The story so far is interesting, and I want to see what happens with Mel and General Acidulous. Does she really manage to rescue him? She seems to be helping him to remember that he isn't just one person, but a combination of two, a man and the woman whose soul he loved more than anything else. Since there are only four heroes from earth, I am wondering how they might bring back the body for the soul of the woman he loved to join with, or perhaps he will go into death with her and be reborn. Or something like that. But I want to see how they resolve this issue.
As a series, some parts of this book seem a bit, predictable, but again, that seems to be because many other series are based around the same Chinese and Japanese legends and myths. This one has its ups and downs, and still manages to remain fresh and make me want to read more with each volume. Recommended.