Once the world was not as it has since become. Once it worked in a way different from the way it works now...
Pierce Moffett is a teacher and historian who at midlife feels himself to be standing at a great turning point in the history of the world. As a child, Pierce was no stranger to magic, but those revelations faded with time. Now Pierce's search for a secret history of the world - one in which magic works and angels speak to humankind - has begun again.
Pierce finds clues offered to him in the unfinished last novel of a writer named Fellowes Kraft and in the real-life histories of the doomed Renaissance heretic Giordano Bruno and the Elizabethan magus John Dee. He will also find the secret history pervading his present in his involvement with two Roses: Rosie Rasmussen, guardian of the dead Kraft's legacy, and Rose Ryder, who will soon become his lover.