The Outstretched Shadow

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The Outstretched Shadow
Author Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Country United States
Language English
Series Obsidian Trilogy
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
October 3, 2003
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages 727 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-7653-4141-7 (paperback edition)
OCLC 56386629
Followed by To Light a Candle

The Outstretched Shadow is the first book of Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory's Obsidian Trilogy. It is followed by To Light a Candle.


Seventeen-year-old Kellen Tavadon has lived his whole life in Armathelieh, the Mage City. The son of Arch-Mage Lycaelon Tavadon, Kellen is expected to become a Mage by Armathelieh's citizens. However, fate has different plans for him. Stumbling through the City's Low Market, he comes upon three mysterious books — the books of the Wild Magic , an art forbidden by the High Mages. When Lycaelon searches his room and finds the books, Kellen is accused and convicted for the practice of Wild Magic. He is forced from the city by an Outlaw Hunt — a rare event orchestrated by the Mages of the Council to look like banishment , but actually a cover-up for murder. Kellen casts a Wild Magic spell asking for help in escaping the Outlaw Hunt. The Wild Magic grants him a unicorn named Shalkan who agrees to help Kellen on the condition that he remain chaste and celibate for a year and a day. Seeing little choice, Kellen agrees. After he and Shalkan fight off the stone hounds of the Outlaw Hunt, both are badly injured and seek refuge at the home of a Wild Mage named Idalia. Idalia happens to be Kellen's older sister who also was banished by their father. She takes him in and teaches him about Wild Magic.

Meanwhile the demons, led by Queen Savilla, want to conquer the world of light. Savilla does this by trying to get the elves and humans to fight. Her son Prince Zyperis tells a spy for the council that Kellen has escaped and is learning wild magic from his sister. The council then decides to extend its border to where Idalia and Kellen live. Idalia, Shalkan and Kellen are forced to move into Elven lands, while the other folk (sylphs, dryads, fauns, pixies, gnomes, and centaurs) have to go north towards the mountains. As Kellen, Idalia, and Shalkan approach the Elven lands, Kellen notices that the woods are different from the wild wood and there are no other folk. When Kellen meets the elves he thinks they are perfect in every way. Their beauty and their whole civilization seem perfect. When they first arrive at their new home Kellen meets Jermayan, who loves and is loved by Idalia. However, she does not want to be with him because he will live for hundreds of years and she will die. Jermayan does not care, but Idalia rejects him. While Kellen is exploring he meets a young elf, Sandalon, who happens to be the prince of the elves and takes him to his mother, Queen Ashaniel. While she is there she tells him that a drought has happened. Idalia then learns this is not a natural drought. When she tries to summon water by wild magic it is rejected. The drought is a magical drought; someone is stopping the water.

Idalia learns that the demons are the ones causing the drought. She believs she can fix it but she and the elves will have to pay a price. Then someone will have to go to the place the spell is being held and put a keystone with the counter spell and change it. Kellen has to do that because when the drought is broken huge storms will come and Idalia is need to slow and stop the spells and Kellen and Idalia are the only wildmages in elven lands. Kellen goes with only Jermayan and Shalkan. They journey into the mountains were the demons live to stop the counter spell. As they are traveling Jermayan teaches Kellen how to become a knight when he learns that Kellen is a knight-mage, making him an excellent fighter, but only an average wild mage. When several human and centaur bandits attack them, Kellen kills for the first time and is terribly upset. Jermayan is mortally wounded and Kellen heals him with wild magic, during which the gods of wild magic tell him "you will know what to do when the time comes" and Jermayan is healed but weak. Meanwhile, Kellen learns from Jermayan of the Great War.

The elves, humans, and wild folk fought against the demons. Kellen learns that there were wild mages that did not want to pay their price so they joined the demons. Each had mighty dragons on both sides, and many races of the light were lost forever. As they get closer, the price in which Kellen paid for healing Jermayan leads him to someone harassing a girl. Kellen engages the man, deciding against drawing his sword against the man's club, instead using his armored gauntlets to knock him unconscious. Then Kellen realizes that the girl he saved looks like a demon. Jermayan sees her and tries to kill her but Kellen protects her. While they are fighting Shalkan walks up to her and touches her with his horn. If a demon touches a unicorn horn they die. Jermayan stops fighting Kellen and only accepts her because Shalkan threatened to kill him. The girl, Vestakia, says she can lead them to the barrier where the spell is being held. She can sense where demons and demon magic are. She then tells the story of how her mother was a Wild Mage who unknowingly slept with a demon in human guise. When she found out, she called on the wild magic for help and was given a choice: her child could be born human but with a demon nature, or a demon with a human nature. Both choices would cost twenty years of life. She took the second option and fled with her sister into hiding.

Vestakia finally leads them to the mountain where the barrier is held. Vestakia, Kellen, Jermayan, and Shalkan ascend the mountain to find an obelisk. Kellen has to climb up it to position the counter-keystone while the others are weak because of the demon magic. As Kellen climbs up a demon army of goblins comes, and Vestakia, Shalkan, and Jermayan fight them off. During the battle, Jermayan learns to trust Vestakia and saves her life. Meanwhile, Kellen realizes he is going to die by going up there. He wishes he never left the golden city and learned wild magic. He realizes that he didn't miss the city itself, but what it could have been. A place of honor, justice, and law, and he misses the fact that he used to think it was. He ascends the staircase to the top of the obelisk, and is surprised to confront a doppelganger of himself. The doppelganger attempts to persuade him to give up his mission, to try to convince him of returning to Armathelieh. He tells him to renounce the three books, beg for his father's forgiveness, and he can take his father's throne to make the city how he wants it. Kellen almost accepts, but realizes it is all a trick. He slams the counter-keystone into the obelisk, starting the spell that will eventually shatter it. When he does, Doppelganger Kellen turns into the Demon Queen and disappears. Kellen's hands burn from holding the counter-keystone in place, and he thinks he going to die from the pain. He collapses when the obelisk is destroyed, and the goblins flee.

Back in elven Lands, Idalia knows that she sent Jermayan and Kellen to their deaths. Then she feels the magic of the barrier being destroyed. She summons the wild magic, hesitating on the price but accepts to control the weather patterns as the storms built up from being stopped by the barrier. It transforms her into something big and she flies into the storm and controls it. Three days later, Ashaniel finds Idalia unconscious in a field. Kellen wakes up with Vestakia, Shalkan, and Jermayan all next to him and finds it raining. He feels really weak, and his hands hurt badly and are bandaged. As the book ends the Demon Queen is furious and Kellen's tutor Anigrel talks to her and she tells him what to do in the golden city.


  • Kellen Tavadon: the main protagonist and is heir to Lycaelon Tavadon's estate, he discovers the three Books of Wild Magic and is later banished from Armathelieh
  • Lycaelon Tavadon: Arch-Mage of the ruling council of Armathelieh, and Mage of the High Magick
  • Shalkan: the unicorn who helps Kellen during the Outlaw Hunt. Shalkan stays with Kellen throughout the trilogy, making wisecracks along the way
  • Idalia Tavadon: sister to Kellen and in love with Jermayan, although she refuses to admit it. She was banished from Armathelieh for practicing the Wild Magic
  • Chired Anigrel: Kellen's tutor in Armathelieh
  • Jermayan: an elf knight who is in love with Idalia
  • Vestakia: a human/demon crossbreed that Kellen rescues. Her mother was a Wild Mage who unknowingly slept with a demon in human guise. When she found out, she called on the wild magic for help and was given a choice: her child could be born human but with a demon nature, or a demon with a human nature. Both choices would cost twenty years of life. She took the second option and fled with her sister into hiding. Vestakia grew up with her mother and aunt until their deaths.
  • Queen Savilla: The Demon Queen and ruler of the Demons which live in the world without sun. She wants to kill and torture all in the World of Light
  • Prince Zyperis: the Prince of the Demons, Savilla's son and lover, and Vestakia's father
  • Ashaniel: the Queen of the Elves
  • Sandalon: the young Prince of the Elves, Sandalon is very active, playing games with the other Elven children. He has great respect for Kellen

Forms of magic[edit]

In this fictional world there are three types of magic: Wild Magic, High Magic, and Demon Magic.

Wild Magic[edit]

Wild Magic is forbidden by the High Mages of Armethelieh. Within the city, it is taught to be a form of magic that corrupts the practitioner which attracts demons, and eventually turning them into one. It is revealed that Wild Magic was once used widely but became banned because of the stipulation which its use demands. It is known to be unpredictable when used, and requires a mage price from the practitioner. When casting spells, the price for the spell has to be agreed upon between the caster and the source of the Wild Magic. The more specific a request is, the more costly the mage price will be. To avoid a higher personal cost, Mages could offer to share the price amongst other individuals or creatures within the vicinity of the spell. They could also use a key stone, a battery, charged by their own or someone else's magical energies in place of a personal cost. Wild Magic is unable to heed any evil or malicious intent; whoever calls on it to do evil will suffer.

A Wild Mage is a practitioner of Wild Magic. An individual does not decide whether to become a Wild Mage or not, rather, the Wild Magic chooses those people who are worthy to become bearers of the 3 Books of Wild Magic, in which the mages' tutelage begins. The three books are known as The Book of Sun, The Book of Moon, and The Book of Stars. Once the Wild Magic decides upon a bearer of the book, the owner and books will never separate in any circumstance unless the Wild Mage forfeits their ownership.

Knight-Mages are a rare form of Wild Mage only produced on times of dire need. Although the Knight Mage would also have in their possession the 3 books of Wild Magic, it is different from the regular Wild Mages' books that it calls unto itself information for the owner pertinent to his/her position. There is only one Knight Mage currently existing in the series, that being Kellen Tavadon.

High Magic[edit]

This is a form of magic that was created by the High Mages to replace the unpredictable Wild Magic, or so it was thought until it was revealed that the wild magic created war magic (which would later become high magic) to help defeat the endarkened. It was created due to the stigma of Mage Price placed upon the Mages by use of Wild Magic. It is well-structured, heavily relying on spell forms traced upon the air by wands, and also writing and planning spell forms upon scrolls. Unlike Wild Magic, it seemingly negates the mage price demanded upon the practitioner by substituting it with the energy stored within city talismans.

Practitioners of High Magic are known as High Mages. The ability to become a Mage is genetic, with the ability being passed down from generation to generation—these individuals are known as being Mageborn. It is also known that once in a while, an individual with magical ability is born to a non-Mage family. To progress through the ranks of the Mages, the students of magic must go through a strict course of study spanning many years. They are taught that women are a distraction and are only good for producing their children, thereby continuing the mageborn line.

It is taught that females lack the capacity to understand and perform magic properly, so there are only male Mages within the city. The progression of a city mage is as follows: Student, Apprentice, Journeyman, Undermage, Mage, High Mage, Arch-Mage.

Demon Magic[edit]

This type of magic is practiced by the Endarkened, also known as demons. This form of magic relies on the fears and pain of living beings. There is no real structure to this form of magic—the stronger the gathered up fear/pain is, the stronger and more plentiful demon magic can be.

Mage price[edit]

Mage price is the payment demanded when magic is used and is attributed to the use of Wild Magic. Mage price, like Wild Magic, is unpredictable. It can take on the form of using up a practitioner's stamina, causing them to be exhausted. Mage price can also take on the form of a task which the practitioner must undergo—for example, it could be the price of saving a cat from falling out of a tree, or cleaning a cistern (both of which were exacted from the protagonist upon his journey). It is also possible for the Wild Magic to ask of the practitioners their very lives. Mage price must be paid; if it is not paid, there are dire consequences. The amount of time that the Mage Price must be paid varies; it could be immediately, within a couple of months, or could take years to complete.

Key stones[edit]

Every spell has a Mage Price set upon the practitioner of magic. If the Wild Mage has to perform a simple spell and does not wish to take upon himself a personal cost, he has the option of using a key stone.

A Key Stone could be said to be a magical battery charged by the practitioner of magic or by the energies of other creatures. Any inanimate object can be charged as a key stone, but for ease of use and transport, smaller objects such as stones are used. It is useful when performing small spells. If the caster would like to perform a greater spell, either several key stones must be used and if it isn't enough, then a personal cost or group cost must be paid.

City talismans[edit]

Within the city of Armethelieh, every citizen of the city must wear a golden City Talisman. This object signifies that the individual wearing it is a full citizen of the city and is therefore entitled to the rights and privileges attributed to its wear. What is known only to the Mages and not the general public, is that the Talismans also serve as batteries of magical energy. They slowly drain the, for most of the members of the city, unused magical energies housed in every creature. Every new moon, by law of the city, the Talismans must be turned in to the temple and replaced with a new Talisman. This is the source of the Mages' power, circumventing the need to take upon themselves the personal costs of using their magic. The Mages see it as their right to take and use without the citizens knowledge, because the City and its citizens benefit so much from the magics. It is similar to the key stones used by Wild Mages with the difference being that the key stones are charged by the individual or by other creatures freely, and the city absorbs the powers without the citizens' consent.

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