Astonishingly generic, bloodless, and boring high fantasy from the usually at least entertaining Patricia Wrede. Some fairly flat characters including a minstrel, an elf, a Chosen One, a warrior, a magician etc are drawn into danger and learn they must go on a quest to find some lost magic objects to save the kingdom from the Evil Race* and the non-human totally-evil no-shades-of-gray Shadow-born who possess people, because they are evil and want to destroy stuff. Luckily for them, all the obstacles are minimally dangerous and easily overcome, they find the objects almost immediately, win the "war" in an anti-climactic battle that is over in about a page. The most surprising thing about this story was how much filler there was in such a short book.
*In addition to being uninteresting, this book solidified for me that I have a serious problem with Wrede's high fantasy world-building. I far prefer stories like her Mairelon the Magician where there are good guys and bad guys, but they are individuals with individual (if not always convincing) motivations. In Lyra we have evil races, of which every member is just bad. I'm willing to give the Shadow-born and their profitless destruction a pass because they are disembodied non-human entities and may have motivations incomprehensible to humans. But the Lithmern are just normal humans who go around attacking everyone for no apparent reason. Even when it is obviously stupid, like a random encounter in a wood with a larger armed group who kill them all. They don't get ascribed any culture, personalities, or motivations for their violence other than inherent hatefulness.
Oh, and I also hate when a character is "special" and therefore learns to be the Greatest Evah wizard/swordsman/thief whatever with one week of instruction.