I read this book years ago.
I skipped the second in the series because of the fact that the library system just couldn't get a hold of it for me.
It's the story of a young boy, his age is never really set, but I've always felt like he was around twelve to thirteen or so but as with most of Lackey's young male heroes he could be as young as nine or ten.
Darian, the boy, lost his parents to a hunting/trapping accident and was apprenticed by the villagers to the local mage Justyn. Whom he doesn't like mostly because he is a fairly useless man. For the most part he simply acts as a healer for the village.
Darian has long since figured out how to make simple chores take much longer than they need to, he reminds me of me.
One day he is sent to gather a disgusting scented fungus from the trees in the forest he loves so much. As he is in the canopy of the forest trying not to get the foul muck of the fungi on his hand and clothing he notices that the village is going up in smoke.
Upon investigating he discovers the villagers fleeing and his master holding off a barbarian horde by setting fire to the bride and giving his own life.
Darian runs for the forest only to be followed by the barvarians.
He escapes with the help of the Hawkbrother, Snowfire, who is in many ways similar to Ari in Joust, more noticably so if you have just reread Joust the day before picking up Owlflight!!
I have to say this book is right up there with Joust, Take a Theif, Exile's Honor and The Outstreatched Shadow as my favorite Lackey book.
I just love the sad, mourning boys she writes, whom for some reason make me think of my little brother, for no real reason he was always a pretty happy kid.
And then you add to that that this is in Vlademar and as such has all my favorite things in it. Gryffins. Companians (later in the series). Messed up magic. Also again she builds the perfect older brother/father figure in Snowfire. Again he is similar to Ari and to Alberich. Both of whom I absolutely LOVE!!! And this is the only time she did a relationship for one of them that I liked. I enjoy the portrayal of the woman. She's spunky and she takes care of the gryffin. I love the gryffin.