In 1984, 16-year-old Serena Smyth appeared on the doorstep of wizard Richard Merlin in Seattle demanding that he take her on as an apprentice. The body of this silly novel picks up nine years later, when Serena and Richard are secretly attracted to each other but still keeping up the pretense of being uncle and niece for the benefit of the 'powerless' world. Serena's high jinks prompt a local reporter to write an article about them questioning their relationship, which in turn brings them to the attention of the Council of Elders-a ruling group of wizards. It seems Richard has ignored an age-old law stating that no women be trained to use magic. Richard and Serena then travel far back in time to Atlantis in order to find out why this rule was created and to rectify the situation. There they find male and female wizards living in separate communities, with mutual mistrust and hatred. Common sense says that powerful Richard could fix this ancient war of the sexes with a flick of his impressive staff, so Hooper (The Matchmaker) must continually work at creating suspense through arcane regulations, i.e., time travel is too risky to be attempted more than once.