Alvin is a Maker, the first to be born in a century. Now a grown man and a journeyman smith, Alvin has returned to his family in the town of Vigor Church. He will share in their isolation, work as a blacksmith, and try to teach anyone who wishes to learn the knack of being a Maker. For Alvin has had a vision of the Crystal City he will build, and he knows that he cannot build it alone. But he has left behind in Hatrack River enemies as well as true friends. His ancient foe, the Unmaker, whose cruel whispers and deadly plots have threatened Alvin's life at every turn, has found new hands to do his work of destruction. If that spirit of destruction cannot stop him by magic, or war and devastation, then it will try to crush the young Maker by simpler meansmore human means. By lies and innuendo, and by false accusations, Alvin is driven from his home back to Hatrack River, only to find that the Unmaker has been there before him, and that he must now stand trial for his life.