London, England, 1888 AD. Cabalists, magicians and occultists of every species, scattered through all strata of society, are in frenzied activity. The numbers MDCCCLXXXVIII add up for the first time to 13 characters, and it is a year of opportunity for the servants of the Bond in the age-old secret war between the adherents of the old religion and the Vatican Curia.
From the lavish halls of Buckingham Palace, the elderly Empress Victoria and her young Hindu lover - the Munshi - weave together the threads of a secret plan that will return magic to its rightful place: the public eye. While Scotland Yard is racking its brains over the crimes of the Whitechapel Ripper, nascent socialism is at the centre of the events of "Bloody Sunday" and a young Gandhi is initiated into the ancient arcana with Mabel and Gerard.
Gerard Duprey will soon become the town's magician and is a key player in the plot that the occult powers have cooked up for the empire. Gerard, like Gandhi, is a peacemaker. His gift is to master any kind of conflict. He has the invaluable help of Mabel Besant and Tok, the dragon of justice.
Tok is not at all mythological, but very pneumatic - in the greekest sense of the word. This dragon of scale and bone is the omnipresent guardian of the Bond and is driven by inaccessible designs. The magnetic creature will accompany Gerard, through a more than convulsive twentieth century, so that the designs of the Munshi's plan are scrupulously fulfilled and to discover what has happened to gold since all the gold in the world has disappeared.
Pneuma: spirit, breath, wind.