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At the end of the twentieth century an old woman sits among the birch trees and reflects on the joys and tragedies that have befallen her people. A member of the Evenki tribe who wander the forests of north-eastern China, hers was a life lived in close sympathy with nature at its most beautiful and cruel. Then, in the 1930s, the intimate, secluded world of the tribe is shattered when the Japanese army invades China. The Evenki cannot avoid being pulled into the brutal conflict that marks the beginning of the end of life as they know it.