The Outstretched Shadow, the first book in The Obsidian Trilogy from Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells. Young Mages in training--all men, for women were unfit to practice magic--memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.
Then he found the forbidden Books of Wild Magic--or did they find him? The three slim volumes woke Kellen to the wide world outside the City's isolating walls. Their Magic was not dead, strangled by rules and regulations. It felt like a living thing, guided by the hearts and minds of those who practiced it and benefited from it.
Questioning everything he has known, Kellen discovers too many of the City's dark secrets. Banished, with the Outlaw Hunt on his heels, Kellen invokes Wild Magic--and finds himself running for his life with a unicorn at his side.
Kellen's life changes almost faster than he can understand or accept. Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world where the magical beings he has learned about as abstract concepts are flesh and blood creatures-Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.
Especially once he learns about Demons. He'd always thought they were another abstract concept-a stand-in for ultimate evil. But if centaurs and dryads are real, then Demons surely are as well. And the one thing all the Mages of the City agreed on was that practicing Wild Magic corrupted a Mage. Turned him into a Demon. Would that be Kellen's fate?
Deep in Obsidian Mountain, the Demons are waiting. Since their defeat in the last great War, they've been biding their time, sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent between their human and Elven enemies. Very soon now, when the Demons rise to make war, there will be no alliance between High and Wild Magic to stand against them. And all the world will belong to the Endarkened.
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In the captivating world conjured by veteran Lackey (Exile's Honor) and classical scholar Mallory (Merlin: The Old Magic) in this first of a high fantasy trilogy, there are three types of magic, each of which has its own rules, limits and variables. But it is the Wild Magic anathema to Armethalieh, "the Golden City of the Bells," and considered by its residents to be heresy and truly evil that has the most unusual aspects, for its practitioners must bargain for what they need and pay an often high price for power. Kellen Tavadon, son of Arch-Mage Lycaelon of Armethalieh, has been raised (indoctrinated, actually) to believe that High Magick is the only true magic and that his father and the Council of Mages have the final word. But Kellen isn't so sure. He's always been a bit suspicious of the council's tight control over the city. One day, while playing hooky from his lessons in magery, Kellen finds a set of books about Wild Magic. He knows he shouldn't touch them. To open the books and read them is to court a death sentence, no matter if your father is the Arch-Mage. But Kellen can't resist. And thus, after a bit of a slow start, Kellen sets down a road he never expected to take, on a journey of dire importance to both humans and nonhumans (the latter including elves, unicorns and other enchanting creatures). The narrative speeds to the end, avoiding a jarring halt while leaving the reader satisfied and wanting to know more.