A bold fusion of history, myth, and futuristic fantasy, Ward's imaginitive medieval odyssey ravishes the eye, challenges the mind, and stirs the heart. When young Griffin's older brother Connor returns to their 14th century Cumbrian mining village with horrifying tales of the Black Death, the elders fear the small community is doomed. But in a prophetic dream, Griffin sees a religious pilgrimage by which a resolute band may triumph over the pestilence through an act of religious faith. Their quest, to erect a new spire on a distant church steeple, will take them deep into the bowels of the earth and make them strangers in a strange land, because they emerge from their tunnels into the glass towers, monstrous machinery and religious scepticism of modern-day New Zealand. There is a powerful allergorical undercurrent, too, which draws a parallel between the plague-threatened village and the modern city, itself living under the spectre of a nuclear Armageddon.