Friday 20th January 1961. On the day JFK is sworn in as US President, a storm breaks over Moord Manor, an imposing English country house. Housekeeper Mrs Constance Dribble prepares to receive guests for a weekend party. There’s just one problem: her employer, the enigmatic Mr Di Sorto, has been delayed and won’t be there to greet his guests. So it falls to Mrs Dribble and Runcible — the haughty butler — to do the honours.
Things go awry after dinner when an intruder is spotted in the garden. Then the Colonel is murdered with a broadsword from the suit of armour in the drawing room. Mrs Dribble calls the police, only to be told that they are stranded — the bridge is down and they are completely cut off. What’s worse, there’s an escaped murderer on the loose! Still — at least the ghosts are happy. Oh, didn’t I mention the ghosts?
Teenage Nightingale Oscar Smallwing has issues. First, he has vertigo! And any self-respecting Gale wants to soar into the Clearing at the Singfly competition. Then there’s his singing. Every time he tries, instead of the beautiful singing of his flock, some weird vocal gymnastics called R’n’B comes out. And the third — and biggest — problem? He’s fallen in love with Riley Rakewing. When Oscar and Riley are selected for the same ‘Singfly’ contest, he goes into a tailspin. He fails spectacularly and runs away in shame to the Westwood — home of the fearsome Magpies.
He meets four crazy Magpie brothers — they must be crazy because they like his singing and decide to teach him to fly at ‘Ultraspeed’. Then one day he accidentally discovers there’s an armada of Cuckoos about to invade his wood. And so Oscar becomes the unlikely hero as he sets out to save the Flock and get the Gale. But there are no guarantees — he’s strictly wingin’ it!
Will Rotherwood — Harvard graduate, decorated soldier and son of a Senator — has all the credentials to go into the family business: politics. But he just wants to write and spend time with his new love, Rowena. Will has a dark secret — one that his father uses against him. He sends Will away to stand for Congress. As Will boards the train Rowena gives him a book: Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. Will falls asleep reading the book, and wakes with a start. He is alone in a desolate and eerie new landscape — England in the 12th Century! To get back home, Will has to endure a perilous journey of discovery — about courage; about women and the true meaning of love; about right and wrong. He makes enemies of the Norman Templar knights, Bois Guilbert and De Bracy — both murderous trained killers.
Guided by Richard the Lionheart, led astray by the jester Wamba and his sidekick, the swineherd Gurth, Will learns how to find his moral compass, his sense of adventure and his appetite for life.