Every year, wards turning 15 are given chances of being made apprentices to different craftmasters. Will dreams to be a knight but is refused due to his small size. Instead, he is apprenticed to Halt, the royal ranger. Rangers are believed to practice black magic and so Will is hesitant to be his student.
He spends the next few weeks learning to cook simple meals, how to use a ranger’s weapons and how to move around unseen. From these lessons, Will realises that he has talents such as speed and agility in place of physical size. Will begins to be more comfortable around Halt, despite his gruff personality and harsh comments. When he is given a horse, Tug, he must train it and be able to mount it. He eventually uses an apple to lure the horse and in doing so learns that intelligence is just as important as strength. Will is taught to clean and take care of Tug, teaching him the value of patience.
He also begins to realise he has other talents such as speed, agility and intelligence. Halt also begins to enjoy having Will’s company.
Later when Will goes on a boar hunt, he saves Horace from a boar and the two become good friends whereas earlier, they were enemies.
But the real complication arises when Halt and Will attend the ranger’s gathering where ranger’s across the kingdom come together and exchange information. They meet Gilan, Halt’s former apprentice but learn that the Kalkara, beasts under the rule of Morgarath, are roaming the kingdom. There are three Kalkaras in the world, one which has been slain but took three knights to subdue it and where two of the knights were