When the warrior Prince Riven of Kardeth decided to attack Pelucir, the ancient mage Atrix Wolfe pleaded in vain with the prince to desist. So the mage wrought a mighty spell to create a murderous, irresistible Hunter that slew Pelucir's king and drove the forces of Kardeth from the field. Twenty years later, Prince Talis of Pelucir is studying magic in Chaumenard at the behest of his brother, King Burne, when he discovers a strange book of magic spells. Soon after, Burne recalls Talis, who takes up residence in the castle's ghost-ridden keep, where the spells from his book go disastrously wrong. Meanwhile, a sad, disregarded mute girl, Saro, labors in the castle's scullery as a pot-washer. When she's ordered to carry meals to Talis, he notices her--and she starts to recover her awareness. Then the Queen of the Wood abducts Talis; though she shows him every courtesy, he is forced to wander in the human world as a ghost. Atrix Wolfe is drawn to the scene when the dreaded Hunter reappears. Saro, meanwhile, begins to read Talis's book of spells. Atrix, who thought the Hunter was his own creation, can't understand why he is unable to uncreate it--until he confronts the Queen of the Wood and learns that, in fashioning the Hunter, Atrix accidentally ensorcelled both the queen's consort and her daughter. The consort, maddened and twisted by Atrix's spell, became the Hunter; the daughter lost her memory and her magic and became Saro. Intriguing, at least initially, and delicately wrought. But like the similarly charming The Cygnet and the Firebird, (1993), desperately short of plot even at this modest length.