In 1688 Venice, an eloquent, cultured dog who has survived war and revolution becomes separated from his owner, a physician who dabbles in the "chemystry" of immortality.
After a confusing prologue in which a dead body is found on a beach in Denmark in 1602, the story opens properly in Venice in 1815, long after the dog and his owner have become separated. The dog lived a mostly comfortable life prior to the separation, but in the aftermath, his days are impoverished and worry-filled. The dog's first-person narrative is both a joy and a frustration. The memoirlike story is beautifully rich in perseverance, love, the sweetness of life, and memorable, evocative scents. But the dog's owner and their nemesis, Vilder, another "chemyst," are known only through the dog's limited point of view. Neither the dog nor his owner is named until late in the story. Until then, the dog is only "my champion," the owner just "my master." The dog's canine love interest, Blaise, and companion-in-adventure, Sporco, a skinny stray transformed into a loyal sidekick, are sympathetic partners in the dog's life.
After 127 years of patiently waiting, a supremely loyal dog sets off across Europe, through the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars, hoping to be reunited with his owner.