'We are so often a disappointment to the parents who abandon us . . . ' Ilario is born hermaphrodite, a true genetic chimera. Found abandoned on the steps of a chapel of the Green Christ, in one of the minor Iberian kingdoms, on a freezing snowy night, Ilario is fostered by Federico, an impoverished Iberian noble, who plans to gift Ilario to the king, hoping to gain favour at court. At the age of 15, Ilario joins King Roderigo as the King's Freak, but while learning the ways of the court, Illario has another lesson to study: abondonment and betrayal. For Rosamunda, Ilario's birth mother, has arrived - and the secret of Ilario's shameful birth must be kept hidden, lest the resulting scandal ruin Rosamunda's husband, Videric, the king's most powerful advisor. When Ilario is freed by the king, he/she is summoned by Rosamunda. And when her attempt to murder her child fails, Rosamunda whispers 'Run . . . ' And Ilario does . . . across the Mediterranean, to Carthage.