After the abrupt termination of the Fourth Beginning, Adam and Eve Smith reluctantly settle back into their old lives until, unexpectedly, Adam is recruited by the business consultancy firm Slievens as one of their chosen executives. David Minofel, a partner in Slievens, is Adam’s sponsor.
On the evening Minofel visits the Smith's home in Harrow to offer Adam a job, a couple of burglars burst into the Smith's home, and beat up Adam and Eve. Just as one of the burglars is about to rape Eve, Minfoel arrives for his appointment with Adam. When he rings the bell one of the burglars sends him away but, realising something is wrong, Minofel returns, bursting into the house and killing both burglars.
Adam and Eve are both inexpressibly grateful to Minofel who reveals that he spent years in the SAS and as a mercenary before joining Slievens.
Adam’s first appointment is in Geneva, as Marketing Director of ZeD, a major Swiss pharmaceutical company. Adam's mentor in Geneva is the beautfiul and highly intelligent Miss Gorgeous Tomic, personal assistent to the MD of ZeD. Adam quickly learns the Slievens philosophy. Define your goals, devise the most efficient way of achieving them, and act, uninhibited by any scruples.
Meanwhile, at the Smith’s house in Harrow, the other questors, including Kit, the enigmatic blind man from the Fourth Beginning, have gathered. Kit is keen to reactivate the Fourth Beginning but Eve and the other questors are less enthusiastic, fearful of retribution from whatever aborted the Fourth Beginning. Kit, undeterred, visits Adam in Geneva but meets with a cool reception.
Adam feels challenged but fulfilled by the demands of his new job. He enjoys the power he has to get things done and the extraordinary financial incentives he is given to succeed. His main task is to oversee the successful introduction of ZeD's new drug, Angeloma. All seems to be going well until a patient on the drug dies in a clinical trial in Basel.
Adam quickly discovers that the application of Slievens modus operandi involves him in bribery, blackmail and, finally, murder.
While Adam is in Geneva, Eve discovers she is pregnant. She misses Adam and becomes increasingly concerned that his work for ZeD is taking him over. As the weeks pass, their relationship deteriorates until she confides in Kit that she thinks she has lost Adam and that their marriage may be over.
Although Adam does not fully understand Slievens objectives, he is a tremendous success in Geneva. His career, guided by Slievens, seems assured and his financial future secure. Indeed the prospect of real wealth beckons. Perhaps even more importantly, Adam feels he has found a kind of truth, not the abstract truth he had sought in the Fourth Beginning but a practical, pragmatic truth about the nature of man – and his own true nature.
Adam has no idea that Slievens and David Minofel are working for the Praesidium, a secret organisation that, for thousands of years, has been guiding man and directing history. The goal of the Praesidium is to enable man to be himself and to fulfil himself. To this end, the monitaurs, agents of the Praesidium, promote depravity, extremism, corruption, obfuscation and negativity.
Minofel is grooming Adam. He knows Adam set out on a quest to find the truth. Minofel is going to provide him with a different kind of truth, one which will satisfy him and ensure that he and Eve are never again tempted to set out with the Storyteller on another quest.