It is October 1477 and Roger the Chapman, newly married and
still enjoying wedded bliss, is surprised to find his old,
familiar feeling of restlessness returning. Within a month
he is setting off, once again, on the ancient ridge road
that dissects Dartmoor and heads for Plymouth, driven by
some instinct that he is needed there.
Roger accepts a lift from a carter who is going to visit
his daughter, Joanna, in the oldest part of the city.
Roger's instinct is soon proven correct when Joanna tells
the story of her neighbor, Master Capstick, who was
brutally beaten to death. The chief suspect is Capstick's
great-nephew, Beric. Master Capstick's housekeeper saw
Beric leaving the house that morning, his tunic stained
with blood, and many more people saw the young man's wild
ride for home on his great black horse. When the King's men
arrived at Beric's manor house, though, the horse was
already in the stables-and Beric had somehow managed to
The local people, quick to fall back on the witchcraft of
their ancestors, blame the Saint John's fern, which if
eaten can make a man invisible. Roger, already responsible
for solving many difficult mysteries, suspects that there
is a more obvious answer and begins his own inquiries.
Roger notices that he is not the first to approach
witnesses, and when an attempt is made on his life, Roger
knows he must be close to a truth that is even more
extraordinary than the superstition - if only he can live
to tell it.