Orphaned when his trapper parents failed to come back from the forest one day, young Darian is resentful when apprenticed to the damaged magician Justyn. He sees little point in the few tricks he manages to learn, and what has magic done for Justyn save leave him under-employed, sick and despised in a remote village? Then half-human invaders take the town and Justyn dies heroically helping people escape while Darian looks on in horror. Lost in the forest, Darian is rescued and recruited by the mysterious corps of Hawkbrothers... This is both a decent account of a difficult and disturbed boy coming to terms with his past and his future and a glance at new aspects of the world of the Heralds of Valdemar Mercedes Lackey has created in her other fantasy novels. Too often epic fantasy neglects the consequences of magical warfare for the peasants on the ground--the villagers' bad treatment of Darian and Justyn is a result of the necessary shattering of magic in earlier books, and Justyn is a brain-damaged veteran of those wars:
"But, like a lover scorned, his magic has left him as well. Much of what he had learned, the blow to the head had driven from his memory; he had trouble seeing mage-energies with any reliability, and the mind-magic he had was so seriously weakened he could no longer lift anything larger than a needle for more than a few moments".
This is a chastening and perceptive book about growing up and coming to realise that the people around you have reasons for being wrong. --Roz Kaveney
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A new generation of heroes takes flight in the magical land of Valdemar