Rhaskos works in the stables. Worth less than a donkey, much less than a horse. But Rhaskos is clever and talented, and beloved of his mother -- who has been forced away from her son but is willing to do anything for him. Melisto is a girl. Wealthy, privileged, intended for a stifling marriage and dangerous childbirth. But first she is to spend a season serving Artemis, goddess of the hunt, as one of her little bears -- a season from which she may or may not return.