Alexander IX has just become pope. He presides over a Vatican that is a viper’s nest of intrigue, betrayal, and assassinations instigated by the ruthless Dante Sabatini, head of the Praetorian Order. In an orchestrated campaign to take control of the Roman Catholic Church and its wealth, Sabatini has engineered a decades-long campaign of blackmail and coercion that has ensnared members of the College of Cardinals, the church’s governing council. But there is more to Sabatini’s plan than just a takeover of the church. He envisions a world where, through religion, the order becomes an international power able to influence governments and global events.
As Alexander struggles to retain his hold on the papacy, the nation island of Janus is confronted with an ultimatum by the Spirit, the omniscient force that oversees the cosmos. Sean Brennan, the island’s leader, must reconcile Janus’s centuries-old anonymity with the Spirit’s demand for the islanders to become a universal force for understanding and reconciliation. It is the only way to confront the planet’s impending turmoil represented by Sabatini’s lust for control.
The confrontation between the order and Janus is inevitable, as Sabatini and Brennan have vastly different visions for the planet’s future. It is a battle that leaves no room for compromise, and there can only be one victor. How to reconcile the islanders’ commitment to peaceful co-existence with the necessity of confronting the merciless Sabatini is a question that can only be answered by the Spirit.
Unwilling to become directly involved in what it believes is the planet’s imminent Armageddon, the Spirit is an interested observer but refuses to assist the islanders in this epic struggle. However, as the deadly consequences begin to take hold, it may have no choice but to intervene.