Twelve men - running in direct line line from father to eldest son, who in turn becomes a father - are the heroes of this wonderful family saga which runs over 300 years' panorama of Hungarian life and history. Each man also passes to his son certain unusual gifts; the ability to see the past, and in some cases to see the future too. The fathers also pass on a book in which they have left a personal record ('The Book of Fathers'). The reader is swept along by the narrative brilliance of Vamos' story. Some of his heroes are lucky, live long and are good at their trade; some are unlucky failures and their lives are cut short. Some are happily married, some have unhappy marriages - and the ability to see into the future is often a poisoned chalice.