Pelmen hates being a tanner, but that’s all he would ever be, thanks to the rigid caste system amongst his people, the hevelens. Then he meets Master Galn Boisencroix and his family. The master carpenter opens up the world of archery to young Pelmen, who excels at his newfound skill. But Pelmen’s intractable father would have none of it, and tries to force Pelmen to stay in the tannery.
One day, however, Pelmen’s best friend and Master Galn’s son, Teleg, disappears. Lured away by the prospect of untold riches through mining amberrock, the most precious substance in the world, Teleg finds himself a prisoner of the Nylevs, fierce fire-wielding worshippers of the god of destruction.
Now Pelmen must leave all he knows behind, overcome his fears and travel across the land, in search of his childhood friend. Along the way, he will ally himself with strange and fantastic beings: a shaman who controls the Breath of Aoles, or the power of the wind, a krongos, a creature of the mineral realm who can become living rock, and a malian, adept at water magic.