The extract of the journal is prefaced with a librarian's note explaining that the journal is now in the possesion of the Great Library of the Clayr but how and when it got there has been lost due to a fire in the "Seventh Twist-Lefthand Store Five Back Up".
The journal entries recount the experiences of a second-generation Free Magic sorcerer living in Estwael, who encounters a book written by a necromancer for instruction to his children. Another librarian's annotation notes that the next several pages have been destroyed by fire, though the rest of the book and its pages have no damge whatsoever, leading the librarian to suspect this journal may have been the cause of the notorious fire.
The journal continues months later, and Idrach has now journeyed into Death. He is intent on forging his own necromantic bells, which requires one to journey to the brink of each gate of death, perform an unknown ritual that culminates in quenching the red-hot bell in the waters of the river.
After two years, Idrach has made the first three bells, (Ranna, Mosrael, and Kibeth, respectively) and journeyed into the Fourth Precinct. He has seen the Abhorsen-in-Waiting in Estwael and is confounded by his Bells containing Free and Charter Magic. There is an annotation addressed to the Abhorsen Alliel, indicating that many of Idrach's thoughts are factually inaccurate.
The journal ends with Idrach's intention to kill the Abhorsen-in-waiting, flee north, set himself up as a chieftan or king using his sorcery and return to conquer the Old Kingdom. Another annotation in the same handwriting as the first simply says "there is no fool like a half-learned fool", indicating that Idrach was ultimately unsuccesfull.