In the isolated mountain village of Castalia, some time in the future, a group of scholars play the bead game. The moves are transmuted concepts of music, mathematics, philosophy, and physics; their sum is the diadem of intellect. In such a world it surprises no one, of course, that children appointed to the preparatory academies are willing to dedicate themselves for years to mastery of the game in hope of one day playing among the best.
The last ripple to disturb the rhythmic variation of generations began with the selection of Joseph Knecht as Magister Ludi. The new Master of the Game was not only unknown except to the Pedagogy, he was untutored in leadership and exercise of power. But doubts were soon assuaged as this earnest young man put aside his own passion for the game, won over the suspicious elders, planned the festivals with distinction, and, in short,