This historical novel about Peru begins with the journey of a young couple in love who are escaping for their lives in a primitive craft, and, eight thousand years before Christ, get lost in the immensity of the vast ocean. They eventually find themselves in an enormous territory where they are the first humans to set foot and where their descendants will, over the millenniums, populate a large part of what is now known as South America. This will become the mighty kingdom of the Incan Empire.
This civilization will thrive and develop until the arrival of a fiery and fanatic horde of European conquerors that takes shrewd advantage of a fractionated population - due to an ongoing civil war - and who pitch one side against the other and then subdue them. A fabulous ransom in gold and silver is demanded for the life of the Inca ruler who is killed anyway. If nowadays an International Tribunal ever decided this amount be repaid as compensation to the Inca’s descendants, it would surely be the largest compensation ever paid in history.
Through the centuries we follow the adventures of different characters whose lives intertwine, such as the awesome rags to riches experience of Alvaro, a young Spaniard who digs himself out of abject poverty by sheer dare devil ambition in order to follow his dream to the New World. He arrives penniless but manages to become an influential and wealthy man and the founder of a family whose saga is the backbone of this book.
Generations later, Fernando, a direct descendant of Alvaro, is forced to fight for his place in history as a dispossessed and impoverished young man, a survivor of the catastrophic bubonic plague that devastated his family. In an endless vicious circle, as his ancestors had experienced for centuries, Fernando has slowly and painfully to climb the ladder of success, becoming one of the richest men in town. Due to a weird twist of fate, Fernando finds himself, in his eighties, travelling through the impenetrable Andean Mountains. He sets out to rescue his beloved, misguided nephew who has been influenced by the infamous Abimael Guzman, the sanguinary leader of the “Shining Path” movement.