The Shadow of the Wind by Paul A. Rhodes Summary
NESTLED IN THE FAR REACHING SHADOW of Mount Aran Fawddy in northern Wales, there resides a small village. Hidden away in the time of the thirteenth century, the secluded villagers still follow the old ways of their Celtic ancestors. Nearly untouched by the approach of the new religion, Gwydion, the Master Conjurer, practices his highly-developed skills. His years are many, and to keep his knowledge alive, he spends his days teaching a handful of apprentices the numerous secrets of his magical powers, which he has developed over many decades of continuous dedication. Though few of his apprentices show any promise whatsoever, one youth in particular, however, displays great talent and skill, rivaling even that of his aging master. He possesses the strength of youth, an abundance of good looks, and for the most part a congeniality rarely found in the young men of the valley. Yet, along with his youth, or perhaps because of it, he is at times insouciant, even lazy. Oftentimes, he finds it difficult to pay any attention whatsoever to his incredible talent. On the rare occasions in which he does focus on his skill, he displays a trace of impatience and mild arrogance. The greatest part of his energy, however, is spent finding ways of having fun while playing with the wind, which he can beckon almost at will. These capricious events, which he gladly conjures, are usually presented as a gift of joy and laughter to his singular friend, a young girl possessing deep blue eyes that, sadly, are gradually losing their sight. But now the days of the life of the aging Gwydion are getting shorter. He knows that the talented young sorcerer will soon be an adolescent no longer. Undoubtedly, he will leave the familiarity of the valley to search out his own place in life. More and more Gwydion must endure numerous premonitions concerning the young conjurer. Yet, Gwydion's gift of prophecy is limited by his own self-doubt as to its veracity. Even so, with each passing day he is filled with a greater since of foreboding. The old conjurer believes he sees residing deep inside this carefree youth a dark and powerful shadow. More than once he tries to warn the young sorcerer of a cataclysm that, ironically, might be generated by the youth's easy going nature and his love of animals. The young sorcerer listens to his old teacher, but gives little heed to the enigmatic prophecy. As Gwydion struggles to counsel the insouciant young sorcerer, he remembers back to a much earlier time and to the days of yet another student, one who was neither attractive nor likeable. This dark and sinister entity sought a vengeful power to alleviate the hatred which had found a home in his soul. Though desolate of talent as he was of compassion, Gwydion now fears that the news from the North of a burgeoning conjurer may indeed foretell the return of this dark entity. It may very well be that this sorcerer of the North has found a way to possess a new and mystical power, a power he has converted to one of cruelty and contempt. Gwydion does his best to resolve these two burdensome apprehensions, but to no avail. Like the many warnings that are born out of a great mystery, his words go unheeded. It is soon revealed, however, that the prophecy of Gwydion is slowly becoming a reality. The young sorcerer soon finds himself caught up in the maelstrom of destiny, losing all that he possesses, material and spiritual alike. In his wanderings, he receives a new knowledge of magical conjuring, a feat, which brings him even closer to his many friends that ride the winds. Though his life is soon filled with hardship and sorrow, this new and wondrous talent brings him a moment of tenderness and peace. This magical gift also serves to arm him with one of the handful of weapons he will possess in order to challenge the cruel sorcerer of the North.