A tale of magic and wonders. Set in a mysterious house that has a black river in the basement and kingdoms in its rooms, and a dragon in the attic that is also the last of the dinosaurs and the Behemoth and a serious danger to our hero, Carter.
He was the only son of Lord Anderson's first marriage. His mother dies, and he learns a few things about the house, like the Book of Forgotten Things and the Words of Power, and he sees his father, who is Master, setting out with the Tawny Mantle and the Lightning Sword. Then his father remarries, to a woman named Lady Murmur, who is unkind to him, and positively cruel when his father is gone, especially after .
And then the Bobby appears, the leader of the anarchists who hate Law and Chaos equally, because they wish to destroy the universe and make it over again. He tricks Carter into giving him some keys, and locks him in the Room of Horrors. Later, he catches him again and throws him down a well. Lord Anderson, realizing his entrance means there is a traitor helping him, sends Carter away and goes to search for the keys.
Years later, Carter returns as a grown man, with the lawyer Mr. Hope to the reading of his father's will -- his father not having been heard from in many a day. He has been appointed Steward until the new Master appears, and Lady Murmur is bitter.
The rest of the tale involves asking no more than three questions, secret passageways, a porcelain duchess, a guild of burnishers who rule a kingdom, hunting with tigers, Carter's greatest fear, a woman tending her garden, winding clocks, and much more. Fantasy on a grand scale indeed.