Fourteen-year-old Gray Riding—bookish and yearning for approval—filters life through the eyes of the character he has created, one Valarious, knight-in-training, a hero more bold and glamorous than he. Riding’s course is altered by the arrival at the Academy of Cordelia Líoht, the vivacious goddaughter of his Housemaster, John Grieves, nicknamed Grievous. Grieves, too, is at a crossroads, forced to grapple with history both collective and personal as he manages difficult students, a precocious goddaughter, and the infinitely more difficult task of rescuing Cordelia’s mother, the woman he secretly loves, from poor health and worse decisions.
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