"At the end of the century before last, in the market square of the city of Baltese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head and a coin in his hand. The boy's name was Peter Augustus Duchene, and the coin that he held did not belong to him but was instead the property of his guardian, and old soldier named Vilna Lutz, who had sent the boy to the market for fish and bread."
"That day in the market square, in the midst of the entirely remarkable and absolutely ordinary stall of the fishmongers and cloth merchants and bakers and silver-smiths, there had appeared, without warning or fanfare, the red tent of a fortune-teller. Attached to the fortune-teller's tent was a piece of paper, and penned upon the paper in a cramped but unapologetic had were these words:"
The most profound and difficult questions that could possibly be posed by the human mind or heart will be answered within for the price of one florist.
"Peter read the small sign once, and then again. The audacity of the words, their dizzying promise made it difficult suddenly for him to breathe. He looked down at his coin, the single florist, in his hand . . ."
(an excerpt from chapter 1)