Imagine a world where words are so precious they are only etched into gold. A world where the Medium—an omniscient magic—responds to the subtlest thoughts and controls nature, the past, and the future. In Muirwood Abbey, young mastons learn to read and engrave and dedicate themselves to unlocking the secrets of the Medium. But while the mastons study, outcasts such as Lia are labeled “wretched” and forbidden to read or write, and the mastons have enemies as ancient as themselves who seek their utter ruin through manipulation and murder. In a world where a person’s strength in the Medium depends on one’s family and the use of a deviant amulet, each must decide whether his or her own magic and knowledge will serve the forces of good or evil.