The first chapter of the novel is called “In the Circles of Hell”. And quite rightly! It is about how life is built in the so-called Dandarath School, whose official purpose is to teach the children of Theosophy and the occult sciences. In fact, everything is quite different: children are subjected to inhuman experiments (using hypnosis, intimidation and other “methods of education”). Friendship here is a serious misconduct!
The protagonist of the work is a young man of eighteen years, Ariel. He got to this institution by the will of his guardians, who decided that Aurelius Galton (the real name of the young man) was completely useless to the great state left to him by his dead parents. Therefore, the result of training in Dandarat was to become a complete inadequacy of the young man and his recognition as incompetent. But everything turned out differently.
In addition to hypnotists and fakirs, serious scientists worked in Dandarat, who worked to create a flying man. The result of the experiments of the doctors of Fox and Hyde was decided to be tested on Ariel. Of course, in the novel “Ariel” Belyaev (the summary allows one to understand this) stigmatizes such scientific figures. After all, to all of them, in fact, it does not matter how this experiment ends for the spiritual and physical health of the young man. It’s even better for them if Aurelius gets hurt in the mind. But the experience is surprisingly successful!
Heads of a terrible school, as it turned out, miscalculated, giving Ariel the ability to fly. He immediately leaves Dandarat, taking with him the boy Sharada, which was imbued with sympathy.
Sharad and Ariel find themselves in Bengal. Here they receive shelter in the house of a poor peasant Nizamat and his granddaughter, the young widow of Lolita.
By the will of fate, Ariel has to become an entertainment for the raja, a partner of the pastor (he takes off, demonstrating what the true faith is supposed to be capable of).
All this time, Aurelius is looking for his older sister, smart, recalcitrant and practical Jane Galton. Her search becomes almost successful when she accidentally encounters her brother, but he flies away, leaving the girl in shock.
Then Ariel is used for his own benefit, Hatfield and Grigg are enterprising Americans who work in the circus industry. From their submission, Aurelius participates in sports, which, of course, wins. Now he is an unbeaten athlete named Bina.
After the time Ariel still finds Jane, who manages to persuade him to return to Britain. But there is no true community of brother and sister, they are, in fact, strangers. Another circumstance that allows Ariel to understand that he is a stranger in this world of dealers is an attempt by bandits to use him in kidnapping a child.
The last drop is the evening when Aurelius appears before a secular society. The pejorative statements of one of the guests about the inhabitants of India lead the youth to himself. This is followed by another quarrel with his sister, who does not understand the humanity of Aurelius and his disdain for prejudice. Ariel collects things and leaves for Madras. There, next to Sharad, Lolita and Nizmat he wants to live his life!