London, September 1843
The Clarendon Academy of Magic, in London, is widely acknowledged as the foremost educational institution for young mages, not only in Britain but across the globe. Founded almost two centuries ago in 1645, it also has the privilege of being the oldest.
Today, its imposing halls and impeccable courtyards are buzzing with even more activity than usual, as more than three hundred new students, most of them around the age of nine, arrive to be registered. Many have parents with them, and are engaged in tearful goodbyes or sudden bouts of anxiety at leaving home. Others have arrived with servants, siblings, or sponsors.