The spaceship destroyed, his family murdered, Duncan finds himself stranded on a planet circling Wolf 359. Along with the only other survivor, a beautiful gladiator named Alexis, they encounter a civilization whose past reaches back only 1500 years. Their fortune stumbles from the start when Alexis is immediately forced to fight the nation's berserker who underestimates his opponent, and pays dearly for it. Yet no sooner is she awarded his position, title, and wealth when she is called upon to lead the nation's warriors in the first full scale battle she has ever experienced, against an enemy who take no prisoners.
With the very real possibility of Alexis never returning, Duncan is left alone to fend for himself. Calling himself a wizard of the universe, he is brought before the Council of Prelates to explain his obvious heresy. Deftly answering their questions, he throws caution to the wind and challenges the nation's high priest, Vix, to a contest of divine favor. The one who calls down thunder and lightning from the sky is the chosen one of God, and becomes the nation's high priest. The loser dies.
Angry and nervous to be cornered into an arrangement that might reveal his own heresy, Vix quickly decides to preempt the contest by having Duncan murdered. Though he survived a destroyed spaceship, can Duncan now evade assassins? Can he really call down thunder and lightning?