The novel is a planetary romance which stars Esau Cairn, an Earth-man of great physical strength and prowess. The novel begins narrated by scientist Professor Hildebrand, who describes Cairn's life on Earth prior to traveling to Almuric. Cairn is described as an honorable man who was "born out of his time" in terms of his temperament and physical abilities. He attempted brief careers in college football and boxing, but had to abandon both due to severely injuring opponents due to his incredible strength. From then, he became a wanderer, seeking his place in the world but unable to find one.