July 1540. The courts of Europe are stunned to hear that Henry VIII has executed his all-powerful minister, Thomas Cromwell. Poet and classicist Nicholas Bourbon is sent from the cultured court of Queen Marguerite of Navarre to investigate. Thrust into a turbulent world of religious, political and personal rivalries, his travels take him far and wide. He endures perils at sea, incarceration in a monastic prison and poisonous intrigue in the Tudor court. Yet this retiring scholar cannot abandon a quest which steadily becomes an obsession, drawing him ever deeper into the beliefs and motivations of his mysterious quarry. Only after facing many hazards does he discover the astonishing secret that unlocks the Cromwell enigma.