In the ancient tumbledown stronghold of Ynefel, the last of the Sihhe wizards, Mauryl, contends with his age-old enemy and former apprentice, the shadow-being Hasufin. Expending the last of his powers, Mauryl magically summons a youth, Tristen, at first mindless but in whom memories soon awaken. At last Mauryl departs for the gray world where the shadows live, having given Tristen a book he can't yet read. Obeying Mauryl's last instructions, Tristen follows the road to Henas'amef, where Prince Cefwyn resides while studying conditions near the border with Elwyn. At first nobody trusts Tristen, but gradually he becomes able to use his Sihhe powers against the invidious shadows controlled by Hasufin. The local lord, Heryn, proves himself an adept traitor by decoying Cefwyn's father, the king, into a trap where he's killed by rebels. Cefwyn is ready to blame Elwyn -- Heryn had help from there -- but Tristen meets the Elwyn Regent, a kindly old man who, in dying, contributes his Sihhe magic to bolster the defenses against Hasufin; and Cefwyn is immediately smitten by the Regent's daughter, Ninevrise. Nevertheless, there are still traitors to be unmasked and dangers to be braved before Tristen can risk a final showdown with the dreadful Hasufin. A verbose and pedestrian exploration of histories, intrigues, and politics that's neither intense nor absorbing enough to sustain a narrative of this absurdly inflated length: self-indulgent bloat from a talented author (Tripont, 1994, etc.).