Adrian Renn was once a successful artisan, but these days he's a penniless wretch with a terribly burned hand. To recoup his wealth he steals a prized possession from a beloved official - only to find himself a fugitive on the run. Across an untamed land Adrian travels, meeting friends and foes who range from odd to deceptive to downright unsavory. But most peculiar of all is the little hermit with the face of an old child. Drawn to his unconventional wisdom, Adrian realizes that not all things are what they seem, and not all accidents are accidental at all. In the end, he abandons old pursuits for a much greater truth, but this truth is shrouded by murder and lost love and spiritual torment - with all answers inevitably leading to the Great Rivers of Transmigration.