'Years ago, in a midnight encounter beside the railroad tracks, a young boy meets a stranger with a powerful secret, a gift of uncanny understanding and a talent for knots. From this encounter, Marcus Friendly's ideas of himself take shape as he rises to become Australia's sixteenth Prime Minister. The night he dies, a shadow, ‘thin as a scythe', is there to collect him when he falls. Another young boy, Ross Devlin, witnesses the event.
'Ross eventually finds himself on an outback station working for Kyle Morrison, son of Australia's most famous poet, ‘The Bounder'. Kyle suddenly needs help to undo a knot of his own, and a young union organiser, Max Petersen, steps in to right an old injustice.
'Now, after years in parliament, Max Petersen, the inheritor of the Marcus Friendly tradition in more ways than one, awaits a call from the PM for the ministry he craves. Around him, a crisis among friends and family is unfolding, and everyone is forced to confront the legacy they have inherited, their influence in a changing world and what follows on after them.' (From the publisher's website.)
'For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.'
– S.T. Coleridge