Image description: a raven in flight, its tail and wing feathers dissolving into black smoke,
lit from behind by a large, yellow-tinted full moon. Image from Pixabay.
This passage comes from the very beginning of the book, featuring Arkady (as usual) and Thyld. We've seen some of Arkady's relationship with his mother and the beginning of his search for transformation magic... Now it's time for these two aspects of his identity to come into direct conflict.