So'tsal and Assan have been kidnapped by a murderous band of Skin Stealers, and Wolf Band are now embarking on a near-impossible winter search for the two women across the wind-blown, frozen tundra-steppe. But Wolf Band are facing their own troubles. Naali, the dreamer, is falling deeper into the grip of the Spirit World and may never return to normal life. Kazan is in a desperate struggle to hold onto her while the search for his mother and sister, and the survival of their people, becomes more hopeless each day.
The Skin Stealers are facing their own struggles. Laughing Man, their chief, has an unexpected reunion and must face revenge for crimes he committed in the past.
Intertwined among the human lives are the animals that share the prehistoric landscape. Zhï¿½h, the wolf taken as a pup, is an adult now and is being slowly drawn away from Naali's spirit by her need to mate. Grey-Eye, her mother, faces an injury that will suddenly shorten her life and threaten the survival of her mate, Torn-Ear and their pups.
And moving darkly through all their lives is a great killing beast bent on seeking vengeance.