The Yellow Tree is a novel for adolescents, with a matriarchal slant. The story involves two races of people: the Lupaka tribe, who are descended from wolves, and the humans of the city of Kynopolis. The city’s royal clan are hybrids, partly Lupaka and partly human.
Kynopolis is an imaginary place, not far from the southern shore of the Mediterranean, in an unspecified but extremely ancient time. A priestess of the Goddess predicts a special destiny for the girl Vio, but she is lively and rebellious and has a privileged life as a member of the royal clan, and she refuses to believe her world will change.
But as time goes on, conflicts begin to appear in the ordered society of the town, with its Queen and its Goddess religion. Within the royal family, a monstrous son, Tankret, grows up challenging his mother’s right to rule. The merchants begin to conspire against the royal clan, and are supported later by the fanatical “holy man”, Purgator, who rages against the Goddess and against women.
Vio has spent her childhood (when she is not having lessons with her nurse Gora, a wise Lupaka woman with magic powers) sailing on the river with her brother Samal and his friends and in other ways flouting convention, but as crisis approaches she gives up her wild ways – including her love games – and plays a responsible part in the defense of her people. Their enemies are stronger, however, and she is forced to escape, with Gora, as friends die and the life she has known collapses around her.
Vio and Gora make the long and dangerous journey on foot to the Navel, the town deep in the jungle where the Lupaka have lived since the beginning of time. Vio finds it difficult to adapt to the limited way of life of the Lupaka, but believes she has found her place when a marriage is arranged between her and Sirion, the young genius who embodies all the tribe’s talents. However, Sirion is coming to believe the true divine power is male, not the Goddess (which horrifies Vio), and casts Vio off when her past catches up with her, and he learns she has had lovers before him. Jalkan, the young man from Kynopolis who betrays her, in revenge for her refusing him, is followed by a band of fighters intending to sack and destroy the Navel.
Vio is banished to a dilapidated and mysterious palace near the town, and from there she directs its defense. With the help of a secret device in the temple, the invaders are destroyed. Friends have also found their way to the Navel from Kynopolis, and Vio settles down to a happy life devoted to restoring the ancient customs and Goddess culture of the Lupaka, with her daughter, Sirion’s child, the fulfillment of the prophecy of her childhood.