This fantasy combines wizardry and magic with an absorbing animal-rescue story and should appeal to all fantasy lovers, but especially boys. Wat, a crippled boy, is an outcast in his village and retreats often to the forest, away from the cruel taunts of the villagers. There he witnesses the lord's handlers heartlessly kill a nesting pair of falcons so they can take the baby birds for their master. Wat, outraged, steals the nestlings and escapes into the heart of the forest, where he meets a mysterious old man. He is a mage-a wizard-who teaches him many things, among them how to care for the birds so that they may eventually fly free, and how to find some helpful magic-which is closer to him than he ever believed.