The story is based on the account of Elijah from the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings chapters 17-19). The focus is on Elijah's time in Zarephath (in this book named Akbar). Much has been added to the simple Bible story by Coelho, including Elijah witnessing the sacking of Akbar by the Assyrians, Elijah's journey up the Fifth Mountain itself (said to be the dwelling place of Baal), and Elijah's falling in love with the widow to whom God sent him.
For a considerable portion of the story Elijah is very compliant, obeying everything God's angels say. Eventually he realizes that his destiny is not being chosen by him but by God and ultimately he decides to abide by his own desires and will.