The world, Fane, lies on the outer reaches of explored space, long forgotten or avoided by mankind. The planet's peculiar electromagnetic fields inevitably destroy electronic devices, but in compensation they enhance psychic abilities. Over the centuries humans and the aliens with whom they share the planet have evolved into clans of wizards and masters, dullards and incompetents.
One person who seems destined to have been relegated one of the latter groups is Grantin, the nephew of a powerful, but harsh, magician. In a last ditch effort to salvage something of his family's honor, Grantin's uncle give him an important but simple task, which Grantin promptly manages to screw up in a most dangerous way. Only vast good luck or the appearance of some heretofore hidden magical talents are likely to save him. Luckily for him, Grantin is, unknowingly, on his way to becoming The Accidental Magician.