Rolf is the son of Hiarandi the Unlucky. Hiarandi, at the urging of his wife, does an unforgivable thing: he lights a signal fire on a dangerous point of his land, challenging the accepted custom that place lucrative salvage at a higher value than the saving of life. However, the life that is saved that night causes his own death and the unjust outlawing of his son Rolf. This tale exemplifies the effect of Christ's teachings upon the Icelandic people during their heroic age. The book is set in Iceland in the days when Christianity has come to the island though the old customs still linger.