In a collapsing society, a boy learns that the world is a weirder place than he could ever imagine.
A teenage boy journeys across an ancient landscape, gathering a motley collection of companions on the way, including a garrulous monk, an irascible storyteller and even a stray dog. The boy only wants to be reunited with his parents, but the journey soon turns into a fight for survival. In the background a brutal war rages. At first, the fighting is distant enough so as not to trouble the travellers, but soon its effects become more apparent and inevitably the travellers get caught up in the mayhem. Difficult decisions have to be taken, friendships are tested to breaking point, heroes fail to act heroically and even the professed coward has his day. Whilst each of his companions have their own beliefs and values challenged, the boy starts to construct his own philosophy of life; and in the end he feels strong enough to confront the greatest and most ruthless warlord of the land in a battle of wits.
Although classified "fantasy", Serpentine subverts the familiar tropes of that genre in order to challenge the reader's expectations and encourage them to examine their own ideas and beliefs about mankind's place in the universe.