Tristan is a young wizard with dark hair and green eyes--but no cozy boarding school for him--heâ€™s been home-schooled by the old wizard who discovered him as an abandoned infant under an apple tree on Midwinterâ€™s Night. Thereâ€™s no one to tell Tristan who he is or what abilities may be his. If not for Thomas, his smart-ass cat familiar, heâ€™d be utterly lost. And now for the on-the-job training! One ordinary afternoon, Tristan returns home to find that his master has vanished, leaving his unprepared apprentice to take up the entwined quests for the legendary warhorse Valadan and the lost princess Allaire of the Nine Rings. Heâ€™d be no oneâ€™s first choice, but Tristanâ€™s the only one left to assemble the essentials of the quest--a wizard, the Warhorse, the heir to Calandraâ€™s throne--infiltrate Nimirâ€™s fortress of Darkenkeep, and steal Allaire from beneath the Winter Kingâ€™s icicled nose. In their hundreds, the other wizards have tried--and died. Tristanâ€™s training is exemplary. His will is indomitable. His confidence, however, is nonexistent, and his magic is flawed and unreliable. The fate of his world depends on him--whether he thinks himself equal to the task or not.