* It is the year 1810, in an alternate American frontier where each race is gifted with a different kind of magic.
* Cavil Planter is a God-fearing man who owns a plantation in the northern region of the Appalachee.
* Cavil always tries to obey God, and each time he buys slaves from Africa, he makes sure they are baptized immediately.
* He considers this necessary because, like his white contemporaries, he believes that black people are children of the devil who practice dangerous, evil witchcraft.
* Cavil's wife Dolores suffers from debilitating arthritis and is unable to have children, which is a bitter disappointment for Cavil because he needs to have children to inherit his plantation.
* Cavil remembers the Biblical story of Abraham, whose wife couldn't bear children and how Abraham solved the problem by taking a slave girl, Hagar as a concubine and had children with her.
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