Thorn is condemned to the sea by the people of the High Island because of his crippled leg. To save him, his father builds a boat and sails into the unknown searching for the land his parents came from, a land destroyed by a giant wave. The survivors call themselves the People of the Singing Seals and they are ambivalent about Thorn joining them. Only the Great Mother who is trying to recover the history of her tribe and Willow, a young woman who is apprenticed to her, risk getting close to Thorn. The fate of the People of the Singing Seals is precarious: few children are born, most of those are malformed. The tribe is dying. Is Thorn with his shriveled leg and strange ways a good omen or a threat?Betty Levin has written a deeply layered tale examining the relationship between past and future, history and fate.