The young woman Karigan is traveling alone, on her way home after having been permanently suspended from her school. Her plan is to give her version of the events leading up to her suspension to her father before he receives the dean's letter about her suspension.
Her plans change when she meets a young man with two arrows in his back, who tells her he is carrying an important message that is matter of life or death. He requests that she deliver the message to their king, and Karigan quickly finds herself taking an oath to do just that, despite the obvious danger. To make things even more ominous, the dying messenger's final words are "Beware the shadow man."
Karigan immediately sets forth, carrying a message whose contents she can only guess at, and pursued by people who haven't heard the phrase Don't shoot the messenger. Along the way she makes friends, makes enemies, encounters trouble, gets out of trouble, and eventually makes it to the king's castle. Then the real fun begins.
As I said, this is a good book. It's the first in a trilogy, and I plan to read the second one. However, it does have its flaws. It's not the best written book, and I kept finding sentences that were a little too vague. There were also one or two places that reminded me too much of J.R.R. Tolkien. On the other hand, this is Britain's debut novel, and these flaws didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying it. I look forward to seeing what the next book is like.
It's one that I definitely recommend. :)