The story of the last days of the People of the Bear, at the end of the Reindeer Age, when the reindeer that had formed the center of their lives for uncountable generations failed to return, and the round-heads with their packs of tame dogs appeared, and they were unable to stop them from settling around them. The story of Nô, whose beautiful sister Mah runs off with the son of a trader while he undergoes his initiation into manhood. Strong and fleet, he is instrumental in the capture of the totem cave bear whose sacrifice they hope will rejuvenate the tribe. But the effort fails... it was indeed, the end of a world... “about 12,000 years ago, in the place which is now known as the Eyzies de Tayac, on the banks of the Vézère, a few miles from where it flows into the Dordogne...”
In this romance the author of Ariane records the last cycle in the history of a community of the Crô-Magnon period. Its members lived simply, earned a livelihood by hunting, and worshipped the spirits of the animals they had killed for food, clothing, and ornaments, which animals, they thought, lived again in the pictorial representations of them made by the slayers. In the story of Nô, hunter and artist, are reflected the development and the downfall of the whole tribe. After a life of submission to all the conventions and standards of his race, he is killed in an effort to show his people that their own culture has been outstripped, and that salvation is to be found only in learning from the strangers who have invaded them from the North.