On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is the Bastard, "master of all disasters out of season," and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric's life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.
Set in the fantasy world of the author's acclaimed novels The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt, this novella has the depth of characterization and emotional complexity that distinguishes Bujold's work.