A magical short novel that weaves together two stories, two couples, two different times, and two grand passionsIn one of the narratives that comprise this superb new novel from Carlos Fuentes, we are introduced to Gabriel Atlan-Ferrara, a fabled orchestral conductor, and his great love Inez Prada, a renowned singer. In the other, Fuentes memorably delineates the very first encounter in human history between a man and a woman. In one, the intense drama of Berlioz's music for The Damnation of Faust informs the action; in the other, we watch as a slowly emergent love shapes the nature and character of the two protagonists. A beautiful crystal seal -- the meaning of which is a mystery that obsesses Atlan-Ferrara, who owns it -- unites these two narratives; the magical seal allows one to read unknown languages and hear impossible music, and it is the symbol of a shared love. The duality of Carlos Fuentes's brilliant new novel mirrors two eras, one in the deepest remote time and one in a time to come, but the passions evoked in both, reflected against each other like two sides of a crystal seal, break the limits of time and space and unite in one story. And, like the light refracted through the seal, it begins in prehistory and spirals out into infinity . . . In Inez, we find Carlos Fuentes at the height of his magical and realist powers. This profound and beautiful work confirms his standing as Mexico's pre-eminent novelist.