The novel takes place in 19th Century Brazil, and is based of real events. In the middle of economic instability, drought and the end of slavery the people in the province of Bahia in the North Eastern part of Brazil are gathering around the charismatic and simple religious teachings of Antonio Conselheiro. Antonio Conselheiro preaches about the inevitable end of the world, and how the current empire will collapse, and the replacing republic will be the work of the devil. Antonio Conselheiro and his followers starts building an organisation and starts to work against the government. They build up an army and the situation leads closer and closer to civil war.