Young Vanyel would rather be a bard, playing his lute and performing for the courts, much to the chagrin of his father Lord Withen. So infuriated is Withen that after Vanyel is almost beaten to death by the armsmaster Jervis, he sends him to train under his Aunt Savil, a Herald-Mage at the court of Valdemar.
Savil doesn't really know what to do with Vanyel, either. Somewhat vain, ill-mannered and continuously broding, even the other bards and mages don't feel that he has the right gifts. Savil feels that something is keeping Vanyel from showing his true self. When her herlad-mage trainee, the handsome Tylendel, spies Vanyel and falls for his beautiful looks almost immediately, she allows Tylendel to get closer to Vanyel, hoping to pull him out of his shell.
Vanyel soon finds himself falling for Tylendel, now that he's aware of the world around him, the world that Withen tried to keep from him. But events take a tragic turn, and soon Vanyel's untapped herald-mage gifts are ripped open. Unable to control his new gifts, Savil takes him away to heal and to learn self-control, but daner lurks in the near future. Something is hunting young Vanyel, through his tortured nightmares and into reality.
I found this to be an enjoyable book to read. Very descriptive and the characters are very likable. With the exception of Vanyel. For a main character, he's too depressing and filled with self-loathing that I wanted the author to get rid of him. (Bad thing, since he's the driving force of the book.) I felt the book lingered too much on those aspects of him, making the book feel sluggish at first. Once Vanyel and Tylendel begin their romance, however, the pace picks up and makes for a fine book, filled with action, magic, interesting and amazing creatures, and just a good story.