When nerdy eighth-grader Rich Witz unwittingly becomes a paladin, a white knight in training, he is thrust into a world where flunking a test can change the course of history, and a mysterious bully is playing for keeps with his life.
Rich’s grandmother leaves him one thing before disappearing for good—a white chess pawn with his initials engraved on it. The pawn marks him as the next in an ancient line of white knights. He must prove himself in a life-or-death contest against his nemesis, a dark knight in training. With the ghost of an ancestor for his guide, he has seven days to complete four tasks of valor before his nemesis does, or join his guide in the realm of the dead.
As Rich rushes to complete the tasks, he realizes the chilling truth: his Nemesis is masquerading as someone at school and will stop at nothing to make him fail. As the tasks grow ever harder, the other knights reveal to him that his failure will break a centuries-old chain and bring the Paladin order to ruin. If he fails, the dark knights win the right to control the fate of the world, a world without hope or the possibility of a new dawn. So this is one exam Rich has to ace, with no curve and no extra credit.