Deformed and misshapen at birth, Ulemet is ugly in a way that attracts second looks, but seldom pity. Cursed by her Olmec village elders and taunted by her people, she flees into the rainforest never to return. Rejected and alone, the young girl's only solace is her small jade carving of Uaxaca, the jaguar animal spirit she wagers will guard her as she makes her way to Tenochtitlán, the golden city of hope.
Escaping danger after danger, only to be captured by slavers, Ulemet is forced to play in the ulama, the sacrificial ball game that could result in her freedom or end in her death. Will her hopes in Uaxaca prove misplaced, or will the Jaguar God, who's visited her dreams as a mysterious shaman, finally prove true?