And in this year of our Lord, 1145, now drawing to its close, chaotic events had seemed to be offering promise, however faint as yet, that even the two cousins battling wearily for the throne must despair of force and look around for another way of settling disputes. So a council is planned for a meeting between the Empress Maud and King Stephen, and their warring faction. It is to be held at Coventry on the last day of November. Brother Cadfael asks leave of Abbot Radulfus to attend this conference-not for political interest but for personal reasons. Cadfael seeks news of Olivier de Bretagne, a young knight taken prisoner. Olivier is his son, and though all other personal relationships are severed by his monastic vows, he cannot surrender this one. He must do all within his power to find and deliver his son.