This is the first volume of a young adult trilogy that has the overall title "Annals of the Western Shore." It is a coming of age novel, about a young boy Orrec and his best friend Gry, a girl of the same age, who are both learning about their inherited "gifts"--certain magical powers that manifest along family lines. The book is also a meditation on power and its uses and abuses. It's a much softer work than Le Guin's deservedly acclaimed Wizard of Earthsea, but it's well-done and engaging. I look forward to the two remaining volumes.