Two narratives twine through this superb novel: one introduces Gabriel Atlan-Ferrara, a fabled orchestral conductor, and his great passion, Inez Prada, a red-haired Mexican diva; the other is a mysterious telling of the first encounter in human history between a man and a woman. Berlioz's music for The Damnation of Faust brings Gabriel and Inez together, while the emerging love of neh-el and ah-nel--the original lovers--echoes the Faustian pact of love and death. Linking these narratives is a beautiful crystal seal that belongs to Atlan-Ferrara, its meaning an enigma that obsesses him. And like the light refracted through the seal, these stories begin in prehistory and spiral 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 one of the world's pre-eminent novelist.