Gwendolyn Gray lives in The City devoid of imagination and color. Her school is designed to prepare children for adult life, and children learn by staring into marble-like machines called Lambents, which control their brains, stripping them of all individual ideas, creativity, and free-thinking.
Puff the squirrel is nothing special. He's small, not particulary good at anything, and he would rather be collecting acorns and cherries with his best friends, Nibs and Tinderbug, than sword-fighting. So when Puff is chosen to be squire to Lord Pattercloud, the champion of Clan Grey, he's sure Lord Pattercloud has made a mistake. He has trouble with focus and coordination, two things that are clearly important to Lord Pattercloud. But when the champion of Clan Grey suddenly disappears, things take a turn for the worse.
Twelve-year-old Edge has lived her entire life on Crescent Island. She is a Forax, an anthropomorphic creature similar to a squirrel. She lives in a treehouse overlooking a big lake surrounded by mountains. In the summer, the valley is full of life, and this is when Edge loves to visit the Grotto where she studies the insects and other animals she finds there. Edge wonders: Are there any other animals that can talk the way she and her mother can? Her question is answered when she meets Xalma the amph, a gryphon named Jessop, and a rover named Sole.
Because his mother needs help after his father's death, eleven-year-old Albert moves in with his cousin Samuel's family. Although the boys are about the same age, the only thing they seem to agree on is that neither is happy with the new arrangements. Everyone says Samuel is perfect: his mother, his teachers, and all the girls at school. On the other hand, Albert is completely normal in every way and feels overshadowed by his seemingly flawless cousin.
Thirteen-year-old Milos is fascinated by magic and loves to read about it from the illegal spellbooks he keeps under his bed. He dreams about how his life could be different if his father, Lord Andrik, hadn't banned magic in the city of Anadel. Then, Lady Keren from the city of Breen comes to visit the palace, and Milos meets her mischievous son Caleb. After watching Caleb perform a magic spell from one of Milos's books, Milos is curious to try the spell himself.