In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. And that's only the first of his problems. He must juggle the conflicting demands of a wayward Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, where a faction schemes to remove him from his position by fair means or foul. He must cope with the Fairy Court refusing to grant Britain the magical resources it needs. And now the British Government is avid to deploy this increasingly scare magic in its war with France. He must also contend with rumors that he murdered his predecessor and guardian, Sir Stephen Wythe. But this task would be easier if Sir Stephen's ghost would just stop following him around. And now he has to deal with something even more outrageous than any of these things: a female magical prodigy. Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she has drudged all her life, and a visit by the Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic's greatest discovery in centuries - and she intends to make the most of it.