Damaris lives to work on her philosophical thesis about the history of Plato's forms. Her romantic admirer is conveniently in a position to publish her work, so she tolerates him and his friends in her life, her sole purpose being to complete her research and be published. But her safe intellectual world is rocked, quite literally, when a group who meet locally in a small town just outside London to discuss the possibility of the actuality and meaning of Plato's forms, discover more than anyone could expect.
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The great powers, the Archetypes of all Powers and Forms (supertypes and subtypes as we might call them), are released on earth and are now uncontrolled, and as once they made the world they now begin to unmake it, by reclaiming their lesser forms. The gigantesque Lion of Strength and the great crowned Serpent of Intellect and Subtlety stalk the land, overpowering those they encounter. A giant Butterfly, symbol of all beauty, appears to call all the butterflies of the earth (its subtypes) and reabsorb and uninstantiate the object hierarchy. Birds and animals disappear and the earth and plants themselves begin to lose form and colour. Then in the centre of the circle of power starts an unquenchable fire. But there are one or two who have a partial understanding of the situation, and they must look to the wisdom of the ancients for clues on how to save the world they know.