It is nigh on forty years since the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 and the Cornish are again growing restive to shed the Tudor yoke once and for all. What will be needed, though, is a new leader, and who better to fill this role than twenty-six-year-old Customer Trago. Customer, however, is at heart a coward and wants nothing more than to be acknowledged at the Court of Henry VIII as a minor royal.
The role of hero is nevertheless thrust upon Customer, but not by accident, when he rides back into Cornwall. Struck down by an assassin and left for dead, his life is saved by big-hearted Eber Pendragon, innkeeper and blacksmith of Wynehouse Corner who, together with the sinister wine merchant, Nicholas Allsopp, may or may not be covertly planning to fund a fresh rebellion.
Although aware that he is suspected by both Eber and his servant, old Agnes, of being a spy of the King, Customer reluctantly agrees to take on Eber’s defence of the charge of murder of Rebecca Trelawney, a cruelly facially-deformed deaf mute. Unfortunately for Customer, the Trelawneys rule the parish with an iron fist and no one will stand with him against them for fear of the reprisals that will surely follow.
Customer’s troubles multiply in the form of his beautiful, but devious, former lover, the Countess Anna-Lucretia Ballini, who seeks him out to dispose of her creakingly ancient, but seriously wealthy Italian husband.
And who is the stranger named Malachy Pawley? What does he want from Customer Trago?