In China under the Northern Song Dynasty, the Empire saw tremendous growth and prosperity. But with great riches come great temptations, and the Emperor must constantly fight against the corruption of renegade military officers, abusive governors, corrupt businessmen, and regular bandits and thieves. To fight against this scourge, Emperor Ren Zong gave broad magistrate powers to a judge whose reputation would extend well beyond the borders of the Empire: Judge Bao (999-1062 CE).
Mandated by the highest court of the Empire, Judge Bao becomes a symbol of justice for the people of the land. His aversion to corruption and dedication to justice make him a popular hero, but with many enemies. Accompanied by his bodyguard Zhan Zhao, his page Bao Xing, and his assistant and coroner Gongsun, he travels the length and breadth of the Middle Kingdom, crusading against corruption and all forms of injustice.
In this first volume, Bao finds himself in a small village where a mother mourns her son, languishing in prison, caught in a complicated love triangle and accused of a murder he says he did not commit. Will Judge Bao find the real murderer?