Apprentice healer Lassair isn't too alarmed when a travelling peddler relates a grisly tale of a red-bearded giant breaking into a woman's home and caving in her skull like an eggshell; peddlers, she has observed, tend towards the dramatic. But her attitude changes when she learns that the dead woman is a distant relation. The incident makes Lassair's family uneasy, for the intruder seemed to be searching for something. What could it be? Lassair has no idea. But as the stranger grows increasingly desperate, his search brings violence to her very home.