Via the good/evil distinctions of a folktale, a cushioned slide through Lapp customs. Aslak makes a journey to find the missing half of a gold nugget--buried with his grandfather, it will safeguard leadership of clan and silver (colored) herd. An uncle, disputing the fourteen-year-old's right, claims his first half is the clue, and then the hunt is on. Aslak suspects it is in the Cave of the Great Hunters because of something Kuisma the wizard whispered; but Uncle Piera stakes his claim on a message from the same wizard, and Aslak is on his way before the seer attests to the man's duplicity. Piera tracks down Aslak and leaves him to die after the boy locates the nugget but Aslak is resourceful (as the text keeps repeating) and makes his way back to dispute his uncle's story. There's a tricky final decision but there is never any doubt about who should win. Lapp words are gracefully introduced (and repeated in the glossary) but the search is unevenly paced, the characters strangely remote.