The story is based upon a (documented) 1500 word curse laid down upon a group of people in 1526 by the Archbishop of Glascow (the cursed people were the Reivers of the Walk, who were Robinhood-like denizens of the English-Scottish border, but much more fierce, comprising some of the bloodiest clans in British history.) Latter day descendants of the Reivers include President Richard Nixon, Neil Armstrong and George Custer. The story opens with a modern young man becoming aware of peculiar manifestations of lethal potential affecting him, and learning that he is a descendent of a remarkable number of the Reivers. (The theory of the tale is that the curse followed the Reivers’ genes, and had weakened in prior descendants because of dilution with other genes, but had reappeared in great strength in this individual because of the peculiar confluence of his ancestry.) Three priests, an ancient, scarred veteran of battles with evil spirits during exorcisms, his young protégé, and an expert in spiritual (as well as secular) law, become involved, and strange things happen (e.g., a fourth priest dies horribly). The individual learns that a recent dalliance had resulted in his siring a son, in turn resulting in the curse coming down upon him. The curse itself is quite remarkable in its completeness, reading almost like a legal document, with few but interesting loopholes. The plot continues with gropings by the clerics to determine how to free him from the curse without killing him in the process, including experiments that prove to be very dangerous. Several thousand people die because of the curse before a way is found to free the man, who finds his life a shambles. Near the end, the whole theory behind what had befallen him is called into question, and a sinister event transpires.