This Ruler is an allegorical story about veteran teacher Zack Tyndall and a group of immigrant and local students at Elysium Hills High School. The novel is a cutting exposé about the American education system written in a style that blends magical realism with philosophy with just a bit of satire. The story follows student characters Sialia Torres and James Malachite from their first day of high school to their last. The students and teachers navigate a school landscape in which private publishing companies and ambitious school administrators materially benefit from the constant churn of curricula and state-mandated standardized tests. The novel has two basic components: the story of teenagers and their journey through their high school years, and an exposé of the business plan of the publishing companies that make the standardized tests and curricula.
The story is told in a non-linear order that alternates between the honest, humorous antics by the teenagers and dishonest actions by school administrators, an educational consultant, and the publishing companies that make the standardized tests and curricula. The stories are infused with life lessons, master art work, poetry, natural history, and history. A parallel story unfolds as two teenage Aztec Native Americans flee the conquistador Hernán Cortés during the conquest of Mexico some five hundred years ago. The students in the book are on their own personal journeys to overcome challenges of being immigrants and what it means to belong.