Will Stanton's family spends the Christmas holiday in a picturesque, old-fashioned English village. The more shy, nerdy knave is resigned to being taken for granted or pranked by his five bolder brothers, and neglected by their father, an author. Local notable Merriman Lyon and his secret society call upon unsuspecting Will, who just turns fourteen and discovers mysterious powers, to be their hero in the recurring fight for the side of light against the evil, actually mounted black Rider, being seventh son of a seventh son. He protest to be only a sixth son, but learns his twin brother was lost when they were babies. Will tempts the quest to find and gather on a belt six magical signs, requiring him to travel to time and fight off the Rider's forces. the last sign is a mystery even to Lyon, who maintains that will sort itself once the rest is done, and Will's whole family is in for a surprising bonus, only he fails to save light.