Henning Dietzel, at the urging of a Chilean prostitute named Encinas, investigates rumors of gold in California prior to the 1849 rush. Intrigued he heads to the Gold Country to stake his claim. When others flee a brutal winter, Henning perseveres, and by the time the Forty-Niners arrive, he’s already a wealthy young man. His saga is a sweeping tale of fortune and misfortune, discovery and tragedy, love and loss. From the backwaters and boardrooms of early San Francisco to malaria infested jungles and a guano island off the coast of Peru, Henning’s search for meaning and purpose eventually brings him to realize that all that glitters is not necessarily gold.