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I read this book sometime in the last 2-5 years. It might be older but I think it's written in the 2010s.

From what I can remember the protagonist was a boy, possible orphan, being picked up by some wizard type dude of some order. The first part is them trying to get to the order school where he is taught magic stuff. I believe the members of the order all can shape shift in some way, or maybe it was one of the schools of magic. There was a romance subplot between the boy and another teacher that could shift into a bird of some kind. There was an antagonist character who maybe could shift into many different animals, I believe the antagonist might be a previous apprentice to the man who found the protagonist.

I can remember some plot beats.

  • Boy lives in city as said I think he's an orphan, meets a man who is a master of some type of order of magic. Or maybe the master found him because of some inherent power.

  • They leave the city and they are followed by antagonist or antagonist henchmen.

  • They reach a castle or similar where the masters order is located and he is taught magic. Sorry that I can't be more specific but I believe that the magic was mostly about transformation, or that was what the protagonist was gifted in.

  • He gets a young female teacher who can transform into a bird, they hit it off and romance happens.

The ending of the book, I think, was the order castle becoming attacked by the antagonist. Last battle is between master/protagonist and antagonist. They shift between different animals like bears and birds trying to get the upper hand. I think the antagonist escapes or he was just a mini boss in the series.

There was also some other protagonist in another part of the world. A girl who was among some kind of steppe people. She might have had powers of some sort and/or was related to the chieftain. I believe it was in cold climate.

I can't remember a single name of any character but I remember that I enjoyed it and would like to see if there were more parts of it. I believe it is part of a series.

  • 1
    There's a segment of Lev Grossman's The Magicians that strongly resembles this, but it's a relatively small part of a larger narrative. But since that series is somewhat self-consciously derivative, it's quite possible that this portion was directly inspired by another series. – Chris Sunami Mar 5 at 21:54
  • This sounds vaguely like Sheri. S. Tepper's True Game books, but I don't have them on hand to check. – Kreiri Mar 6 at 13:57

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