As the twentieth century draws to a close, a ship heads for Punta Arenas at Chile's southern tip. On board is Oliver Griffin, who is fascinated by the island and spends his life drawing intricate maps of it. He is on an unusual quest, inspired by a photograph of his grandparents embracing a strange automaton that now lives in the Punta Arenas museum.
This fearsome metal warrior is a sixteenth-century robot from a proposed mechanical army, commissioned to guard the straight against the English. It was discovered on the island by a grieving woman scouring the archipelago for the bodies of her shipwrecked husband and son, and is now the curious axis around which countless stories spin, surrounded by the terrible yet mesmerizing sea...