Jack is an intense, brooding young man, weighed down with the pain of his parents’ death and the worry of providing for his kindly old Gran. The terraced house where he grew up was next door to a sprawling second-hand book store. As a child, Jack discovered a loose board at the back of the attic that he could squeeze through into the bookshop, where he would sneak off to read at night. He particularly loved books of myth and legend, and would go back to bed dreaming of Atlantis, Mount Olympus and fabled Persia.
Desperate to escape life as a grocer’s delivery boy in Battersea, Jack enlists in the 15th Light Dragoons and is astonished to quickly earn promotion to lieutenant. After he gets involved in an illegal duel over Lord Deerdand’s pretty daughter Estelle, his CO assigns him to the Royal Mythological Society. Armed with his knowledge of history and folklore, Jack finds himself a better position than anyone else to bear witness to the astounding changes that are taking place in the Year of Wonders.
As the year progresses, Jack starts to feel reawakened hope. Could his parents, lost all these years, somehow still be alive? Could he be reunited with them?