William Odosson, eldest son of Baron Odo, is knighted and swears fealty to his Duke on the clay after the castle wizard tells him of his wyrd (fate): he will never be Baron, and will see death before receiving any other title. And so it comes to pass; but not as Will imagines--nor until he is betrayed by his Duke, has been embroiled in high magic involving his betrothed, Isobel, and, with Lord Death as witness, has killed the ogre who cannot he killed. Landless but with honor intact, Will then swears fealty to a new king while Isobel goes off to study magic. High fantasy runs the risk of sounding silly, of course, when authors drag in too many enchanted creatures, talismans, and ghostly legions. This book escapes--barely--that fate, largely through a strong sense of time, place, and code of honor. Ghosts are as honorable or vindictive as the corporeal person; treachery abounds, but so does loyalty; love must, betimes, give way to higher callings. If no new ground is broken here, neither are any covenants with fans of the genre.