Aemus Quin, former Inquisitor General of the Wehelian Faith, discovers that the nation he loves is on the verge of unraveling and slipping into civil war. The Chesehdi people are becoming increasingly divided between Quin's former disciple, the dangerous genius Ignatis Luhn, and a reluctant prophetess, Laena Keros, virtuous wife of one of the leaders of Chesehd. Ignatis Luhn has published a Manifesto, setting forth a rationale for removing the child King and installing a fundamentalist theocracy that will remove almost all rights from women and children. He spreads fear while stoking the fires of self-righteousness in men's hearts by carrying out a massive witch hunt, falsely accusing and condemning the innocent for alleged sorcery. Laena Keros was formerly a faithful devotee of the Wehelian faith, despite having suffered a very traumatic episode as a child at the hands of a much younger Ignatis Luhn. Her husband, the Cahalian of Nasihn Tahl, Lord Toseth Keros, unearths a giant stone in the shape of a heart on their land. Upon touching it she has a violent but miraculous encounter with the living and true God. She is given a vision of a book coming from another world which will bear the true story and faith of God. She is shown the son of this God, who suffered and died for the shortcomings of beings on His world as well as hers. Her encounter is accompanied by miracles and healings which work much good among the people. In the eyes of Ignatis Luhn, Laena Keros must die - as a heretic and enemy of the faith. Aemus Quin decides he must defend Madame Keros against Luhn's inquisition, but this will create an unsustainable tension in his own heart - is this woman in truth a heretic, and possibly a sorceress, or has the faith he has loved for so long been almost completely wrong about the very nature of God? Is God "The One Who is Silent?", as the Wehelian faith holds, or is God now speaking through this woman, and to others who have encountered the heart-shaped Rock? Does God indeed have a son, which is on the face of it a blasphemous concept, or is He a deity who made the universe, stepped back from his work, and has now almost nothing to do with His creatures? Is God showing compassion to people by healing paralysis and blindness and straightening misshapen limbs, or are these supposed miracles outrageous deceptions meant to hex and enslave an entire nation?