Conrad Tesdinic is the protagonist in Conrad's Fate.  He lives in the town of Stallchester in one of the worlds in Series Seven, which means that England is physically part of Europe, Northern England includes the western edge of the Alps, and magic is common, although so are computers.  Series 7 has trains, horse-drawn carriages, stock exchanges, and television.  The town of Stallchester is in the English Alps, and Conrad's hobbies include skiing and rock climbing.

His life, though, is pretty restricted.  His father died when he was young, and his mother Franconia Grant is very busy writing long angry Feminist books, so Conrad is mostly raised by his older sister Anthea.  Both Conrad and Anthea are pressed into service by their uncle Alfred Grant, who has taken over the family bookshop (Tesdinic & Grant) after the death of his brother-in-law. Uncle Alfred is a manipulator who hates to work and dabbles in magic, so actually running the bookshop is beneath him. Anthea runs the till and helps customers, Conrad dusts, unpacks and arranges books on the shelves and display tables, and both of them do it without pay or thanks.  And since their mother is busy, absent-minded and neglectful, Anthea also does the shopping, makes the meals, and looks after Conrad until finally, she has had enough.  She takes an examination, wins herself a scholarship, and goes off to university, never to return.


After Anthea's departure, things are much harder for Conrad.  He has to figure out how to cook, and to learn as much as he can about life from the few people he comes into regular contact with -- the girl hired to take Anthea's place in the shop, or the lady who comes to clean when her nerves can stand it.  And his uncle begins talking about how the evil people up at Stallery Mansion keep "pulling the possibilities" and making it hard for honest people like the uncle to make a profit.

Conrad is a bit concerned about the idea of evil people up at Stallery, but gets more concerned when his uncle announces that he, Conrad, has some terrible karma and will likely be dead within the year.  The uncle goes on to say evidently Conrad was supposed to have killed someone in a previous life, but didn't, so the only way to escape is fate is to kill the person he should have killed before.

Getting close to school-leaving age at 12 years old, Conrad has planned how to  persuade his uncle to let him go on to the same school where his friends will be going, but he is suddenly told by his uncle that he is leaving school and going to work up at Stallery.  He also tells Conrad that the person he's supposed to kill is up there, and when Conrad sees the person, he will know for sure who to kill this time around.  Uncle Alfred and his Magicians' Circle even give Conrad the tool to do this -- an enchanted wine cork that he is supposed to give to a being he will summon called The Walker. That being will give him what he needs and enable him to cheat his evil fate.

And this sets in motion the wonderful novel that is Conrad's Fate.