When his animal-speaking Shadow power is discovered, young Vren is exiled outside the gates to the dark forest with other Shadowed. Although most of the Shadowed are solitary, Vren lives with weather mage Rauche until Rauche is mesmerized and abducted by the evil Spellbinder. Vren, his wolf friend Trim, and the seeress Shel contrive to withstand the Spellbinder, freeing Rauche and others to awaken to a new sense of community. A simply told tale with the feeling of fable or dream. The way the boy and his friend fight loneliness and exile together, Vren's subsequent need to find his friend, and the struggle he has doing so, are all convincing. Although the story occasionally lacks narrative drive, and some of the plot turns seem a little forced, this is superior fantasy.