Vanyel Ashkevron, age sixteen, is the heir to a great estate, Forst Reach, though he does not measure up to what his father, Lord Withen, deems to be a "proper" man. He is devoted to music and cultivating an elegant appearance. Withen sends Vanyel to school in Haven, the capital of Valdemar, under the supervision of Vanyel's aunt Savil.
Savil has little interest in Vanyel because he has no psychic or magic powers, but realizes he is not as arrogant as Withen described. Vanyel finds schooling at Haven more suited to his nature..