A medieval murder mystery. Paris, 1377. Alchemy, witchcraft, university students, brothels, the royal court, the King's mistress, a Hispano-Scottish heroine, and ultimately pure supernatural horror.
It is December, 1377, and Lady Marian MacElpin (also known as Doña Mariana de la Manga – she was born and grew up in Spain) is now an unofficial student at the university in Paris: in order to be admitted to lectures, she has to pretend to be a man. However, as a result of the very different life she has led hitherto, she seems more grown-up and worldly than her fellow-students, and it is to her that they turn when one is charged with the murder of his rich uncle, a miser and reputed alchemist. Mariana quickly discovers that this murder (and a second, related one) had their roots far away on the island of Ibiza eighteen years earlier, and involve not only alchemy and the tarot and (of course, with Mariana there) witchcraft (one of the witches turns out to have been for years the secret mistress of Charles VI, King of France, while her sister runs a popular brothel known as La Fille d'Or), but also a one-armed Albanian "king" of the Paris underworld, and such well-known historical figures as Christine de Pisan (then a girl of thirteen), and Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist.