The Ancient Race has ruled in Damaria for three thousand years, since arriving there from their old homeland in the south. Long-lived, yet not very prolific, the Kings of Damaria have brought several animal species to a point at which they are nearly human. A son, by one of these people, of the present King, Armor, was sent south for his education. On his return he foments a revolution against the Ancient Race, resulting in the deaths of all of that family except Riddle the Poet and his very young nephew Lute, as well as the theft of the Orb, an instrument that made possible manipulations of the different species in Damaria.
Riddle and his nephew flee to the forest, where they join with the Turnig, burrowers now hunted by the New People for their fur. Together, they hope to travel north and west to the City in the Mist, where they will be able to take ship for the Western Islands, refuge of many of the Ancient Race over the millennia. They are joined by Moonlight the Dreamer, and Gorhoz the Goremin, along with Kilelli, one of the primate-descended beings. Together the strangely assorted group of beings wins its way through perils, blizzards, and soul-endangering encounters before reaching their goal at last, though they pay a dreadful price before the journey is completed.
Author of sixty novels, Ardath Mayhar began her career in the early eighties with science fiction novels, fantasy, and westerns. Doubleday, Atheneum, Zebra, and TSR published many of these. She has used several pseudonyms, westerns written as Frank Cannon, mountain man novels written as John Killdeer, and a historical novel as Frances Hurst. Four prehistoric Indian books under her own name came out from Berkley, one of which has been reprinted by The Fiction Works.