Gr 6-8 In this fantasy set in the Kingdom of Thyrne, Wat the bakeshop boy finds himself the unwilling companion of Kaila, a strange silent girl from the far North, as they flee like outlaws to the Forest of Lythe to protect a white Ice Bear. Wat hopes for a reward from the King. Kaila wants only to return with the bear to her distant homeland. Levin's skillful pen evokes the medieval atmosphere of Thyrne through sharply contrasting and intensely felt physical descriptions. Character is built up gradually. Levin is concerned with depicting real human beings whom readers must accept with all of their quirks and unlikable qualities. Her feeling for animals comes through strongly in the creation of the bear, who is at once a dangerous wild animal and an appealing companion. As always in Levin's work, a poignant tone underlies the action. No problems are given easy solutions; with growth comes the sorrow of knowledge. Wat, who begins life in bondage, learns about freedom and the different and often painful ties that bind living creatures together. Levin's writing requires effort from readers, but this commitment is rewarding for those willing to make it. Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Pub . Lib .