In a setting that owes something to feudal Europe but more to pure fantasy, young Tymmon hides, terrified, while his court-jester father, Komus, is brutally kidnapped. Having overheard the mysterious kidnappers' plans to capture him as well, he quickly packs a few necesseities and treasures (his old flute, Komus's jester's cap) and escapes from the castle. Hiding in the dreaded forest nearby, he's adopted by a huge, dog-like creature that he assumes is a gargoyle: though "Troff" doesn't speak, he seems to understand perfectly; in turn, Tymmon easily comprehends Troll's excellent advice. Hungry, they make their way to town, where Tymmon not only learns how the rapacious nobles keep the people in poverty but also discovers the satisfactions of earning his bread with his flute, plus Komus's witty songs and stories. This, plus a chance revelation about his father's tragic past, puts Komus's long-ago renunciation of his nobility (a choice that has lately estranged father and son) in a new light for Tymmon, who--by the time he has rescued his father and straightened out the local political scene--has also come to value his father's art. There are several delights along the way here--especially Tymmon's "conversations" with Troll, who is gradually revealed to be an exceptionally talented dog on whom Tymmon has projected his own ideas. A thoughtful, smoothly written adventure.