An old Englishman sits by a harbour in Spain, hoping each day to hear what might have happened to the son he last saw as a child, many years before. He cannot die in peace until he knows. Dominic was sent to the royal court of Sicily, as page to the great scholar Antioch, and travelled with him on an expedition to the East, from which they never returned. Gradually, through meetings with travellers, the old man puts together most of the story and now the narrative of the expedition alternates with his own. The mission to the East is shrouded in secret motives and mysterious encounters. The boy is befriended by the party's interpreter, Venn, and embroiled in an exotic, dangerous adventure involving lost Cathar treasure, capture by the unimaginably cruel Emperor of China and a plan to bring the Mongol hordes of the Great Khan west to destroy the culture of Christendom. And at the heart of the web of politics and deceit, Venn falls in love with a woman whose sad story he has deciphered from the secret women's language which really existed in China for hundreds of years. As magically evocative as an ancient silk painting, this is a novel of the medieval world which illuminates our own
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