Ilya Muromyets, a figure of Russian legend for 800 years, still lives, albeit mostly in a haze of narcotic self-pity. He is recruited to track down a mysterious artifact found by a former cosmologist, Elena Irinonova, in Kazahkstan. Others also seek the artifact, which can open a gate to a parallel world where humans and other races live.
That world, Byelovodye, quite literally is the sum of human dreams and fears, and the disillusionment in the post-Soviet republics is destabilizing it.
A very unusual, well-written take on the fantasy quest.