Twin sons are born to the Dragon-Lord, Kojiro Atani: Karadur and Tenjiro. Karadur, the elder by a few minutes, inherits his father's power to change into a savage dragon. Tenjiro does not. As the two boys grow to maturity, rivalry gnaws at Tenjiro, even though he has his own innate wizardly ability. Tenjiro leaves Ippa, hoping to find a teacher. He returns, subtly changed. Shortly after, Tenjiro tricks Karadur's lover, Azil, into helping him create a box of black magic, in which he seals the amulet that will permit Karadur to change shapes. Tenjiro leaves, taunting Karadur even as he forces Azil to come with him. Tenjiro and Azil vanish for three years.
During this time, the story shifts to Wolf, another shape-changer whose alternate form you can guess from his name. Wolf courts a village girl, Thea. They marry and have a son, Shem, who will one day also be a shape-changer. Evil powers are stirring in the countryside north of Ippa. Winters are longer, more terrible. Then, the wargs appear, evil wolves which destroy people and livestock with savage joy. One stormy day, Wolf finds a man nearly dead in the snow: Azil, escaped at last from Tenjiro's tortures.
Karadur knows the bad weather and wargs must be Tenjiro's work. He gathers his army, including Wolf and his friend Hawk, a lady shape-changer whose alternate form you can guess from her name. Tenjiro strikes first. Knowing, through an unwitting spy, that Wolf stands high in Karadur's army, he sends his wargs to kill Wolf and Thea and bring Shem back as a hostage. Karadur marches anyway. Along the way he is joined by a mage, Sennet. After various trials, he comes to Tenjiro's fortress and issues a challenge of single combat. The two brothers do battle, and Karadur is triumphant. He hasn't got his amulet back, though, and all seems hopeless until Sennet discovers its hiding place.
Returning to Ippa, all seems well. Only one pack of bandits is left in Karadur's domain, and he sets out to quell them. In the final pages of the book it is revealed that the bandit leader, Treion, may in fact be Karadur's half-brother, giving Karadur yet another brother to battle in future volumes of this series.
This report prepared by Deby Fredericks