Reiner d'Ivry, a knight's son in the north of England is an oblate, committed for life to the Benedictine priory of Wrenthorpe at the age of seven. Reiner learns that his dispossession is bound up with a long-rumored curse on the house of d'Ivry, incurred by his father while he was a knight of the Crusade, and grows up embittered and vengeful. Reiner returns home after eleven years to an unsettling encounter with his sister Drusiana, now his father's only heir, whom he has long despised for all she has gained in his place. As this reunion between the brother and sister turns into a war of wills, an unforeseen threat gathers against them both. It will lead Reiner to the mysterious texts on alchemy brought back from the Crusade, now in his sister's possession, and toward an unimaginable fate.