It is 1498, and the whole of Venice is abuzz. Hidden somewhere in the labyrinthine city is an ancient book, rumoured to contain thorny heresies and secrets of immeasurable power. Luciano, a penniless orphan, has been plucked from the street and taken on as apprentice to the chef at the doge's palace. While learning the alchemy of cooking, he quickly finds himself entangled in the search for the ancient tome, even suspecting the chef, his maestro, may be concealing valuable information. But lurking in the wings are some of the most powerful, dangerous men in Venice, and Luciano's secret will lead him through a perilous maze to the centre of an intrigue that will test his deepest desires and loyalties.