The main character, Edmund Bale, wants to be a wizard. He loves books and is mocked by his family for reading. His father thinks it distracts him from learning how to run the Inn so he burns all his books. Edmund is in love with Katherine, a tomboy that wants to be a knight. She is in love with a noble boy and is oblivious to Edmund's affections. Her father is John Marshal, a decent man that has learned from his mistakes and cares for others. Tom is the third supporting character who is physically abused by his owner.
When monsters attack Edmund's village and children disappear, the trio decides to defeat the main culprit, The Nethergrim. It takes over half of the book before the action starts. I almost abandoned it several times, but then a bread crumb of action would be sprinkled here and there and I'd pick it up again. The characters change from feeling trapped to choosing their own destinies. Katherine's characterization bothered me. She is teased for being big and surprised when people like her since she doesn't fit the classic beauty mold. I just finished Frostborn in which the female character embraces and rejoices in her size. She could have cared less what another boy thought of her, unlike this character who only seems to see herself through the eyes of men. Tom is a stereotypical abused orphan with low self-esteem. Maybe the sequel will get down to more action and the characters can grow in a meaningful way.