In this first book of Davies' trilogy, a snowball aimed at Ramsay by his childhood friend Percy Boyd Staunton hits the pregnant Mrs. Dempster. Mrs. Dempster gives birth to Paul prematurely, and Ramsay finds himself feeling guilty over Paul's condition and Mrs. Dempster's subsequent decline. Ramsay develops an obsession with the Dempsters, although he seems unable to help them. Eventually, Paul Dempster runs away. Ramsay also leaves the small Canadian town where he grows up. He fights in the war and returns to teach. He develops an interest in hagiography and travels the world in search of icons of saints. In his travels, he encounters the unusual heiress Liesl and a famous illusionist. Ramsay's childhood friend Percy Boyd Staunton has become an important and powerful man in Canada, although it is clear that both he and Ramsay still hide secrets and buried pain from the past. As Ramsay uncovers his own history, he also finds the true cruelty and true vulnerability of Staunton.
This report prepared by A. Antonow