The Irish boy Setanta-half mortal and half Sidhe- struggles to prove himself a warrior and find his place in the court of the powerful and arrogant king of Ulster, Conchobar MacNessa.
In the process he must endure the savage training of the king's "boys' school," learn Celtic lore from a wise high-druid, and spend a cruel winter as apprentice and watchdog to mystical blacksmith Culain. Here he earns the nickname of "The Hound."
He must also survive the wily attempts of the paranoid king to destroy him. Having proven himself ready, he will finally ride out to pit himself against Ulster's enemies in combat. He does so knowing of the prophecy that to take arms will make his life very glorious . . . but also very short.
This tale is the beginning of the saga of Cuchulain, Ireland's most famous mythic hero.