Aubrey is an apprentice magician sent to learn under master wizard Glyrenden in his house in the woods. Glyrenden is an expert on the art of transformation, and Aubrey's own master has recommended him as the best teacher available.
Upon arrival Aubrey meets Glyrenden's mysterious wife Lilith, and the only two servants in the place, the odd couple of Orion and Arachne. Glyrenden is not at home but Aubrey convinces Lilith to allow him to stay and wait for the wizard. During that time he passes the time talking to Lilith, and finds himself intrigued by her odd ways. His increasing fascination is interrupted when Glyrenden finally returns.
Aubrey tries to focus on learning the art of shape-changing from Glyrenden. He studies long hours trying to master each basic step of the process under the wizard's harsh tutelage. The two men have very different ethical philosophies, which causes strain between them.
Aubrey comes to dislike the wizard, whose house is empty of guests and decrepit. He soon learns that the people who know of Glyrended also loathe him, and he notices that even the animals in the forest react strangely in the man's presence. Aubrey is desperate to learn from him, though, and he tries to ignore these ominous signs.
Soon Glyrenden starts leaving on trips and Aubrey becomes distracted from his studies by Lilith. She is aloof and he sees something inhuman in her eyes, he spends time with her and tries to coax the truth out but fails.
He begins to wonder about the servants as well, and whether magic is at play here. Slowly he realizes that Glyrenden has used dark magic on the people around him and Aubrey has to decide which is more important to him, doing the right thing or learning all the secrets that a man like Glyrenden can teach him.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's eerie, and although the central mystery is obvious early on, the position that Aubrey is put in is compelling.
Best scene in story:
When Aubrey first arrives at Glyrenden's place, its magical and weird.
Opinion about the main character:
Aubrey is a bit slow on the uptake for such a brilliant guy.