Michael Riven is recovering from injuries sustained in the fall from a mountain that killed his wife, Jenny. He cannot face returning to Minginish, the fantasy land that he based on Skye, the area he and Jenny always loved.
Although not fully recuperated, he had gone, almost immediately after leaving the hospital, to his old bothy in Camasunary. One day, a huge dark man arrives, seeking shelter from a vicious storm. He introduces himself as Bickling (or Bicker) Warbutt. Despite his lack of fitness, Riven agrees to go with Warbutt on a walking tour, provided they avoid the fatal Sgurr Dearg (the Red Mountain), which he is not yet prepared to face.
He realizes with a shock that his climb has led to his fantasy land and that one of the two companions who come to join them is someone he met in the hospital; in Minginish he is known as Murtagh Mole. The other is Ratagan, a Viking-like man even larger than Bicker. They head toward Rollarth Rorim, the stronghold ruled by Bicker’s aged father, the Warbutt. Also with them are two tough Myrcan mercenaries.
Almost immediately, they are attacked by a Gogwolf, a savage creature that is almost invulnerable, being made of wood. Riven impresses the others with his bravery. This is fortunate, as they all know he is the Teller of the Tale. He has been brought because his low, even suicidal, mental state has wrought havoc in Minginish; creatures such as the Gogwolf run wild, and winter will not...
(The entire section is 566 words.)