Monty Danforth finds the tin buried beneath a shipment of leather-bound classics. Inside is a millennia-old vellum manuscript written in an unfamiliar but unmistakably ancient language. Danforth tries to photocopy and photograph it, but he ends up with blank images, as though the ink were made of something impervious to modern technology. As the scroll's mystery enchants him, this hapless bookseller falls into a cutthroat conspiracy that he may never escape.
Soon a dead-eyed old man and his granddaughter come calling for the scroll. Danforth refuses to sell them the manuscript, but they will not be the last to demand it. Powerful forces crave the secrets locked within this ancient document, and Danforth will survive only if he can master its power.