The five interconnected stories in Tales of Nevèrÿon deal with aspects of the beginning of civilization. “The Tale of Gorgik” recounts the early years of a native of the city of Kolhari. Enslaved, he is rescued by a jaded noblewoman to attend to her sexual needs. He spends some months at court, makes the acquaintance of the Child Empress, learns the rudiments of military arts, and then becomes an officer and ultimately a successful merchant.
“The Tale of Old Venn” describes the education of the girl Norema, mostly through stories told by the old woman Venn, in the roles of women in various Nevèrÿon societies. In “The Tale of Small Sarg,” Gorgik buys a barbarian boy for sexual purposes. “The Tale of Potters and Dragons” tells how Norema and the young man Bayle are sent on commercial missions from Kolhari to (the nonexistent) Lord Aldamir, on a ship also carrying the masked storytelling woman Raven. Norema’s and Bayle’s fates are reported home inaccurately in writing and commerce is broken off, thus keeping the followers of the fictional lord safe from intrusion. In “The Tale of Dragons and Dreamers,” Sarg and Gorgik attack castles to free their slaves. One poses as a free man, approaches a castle openly, demands that the slaves be freed, and is imprisoned; the other, posing as a slave, then infiltrates and starts freeing the slaves. Sarg and Gorgik encounter Norema and Raven, who go about freeing enslaved women.