The Shoes of the Fisherman is set a decade or more into the future, a time when the world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud over trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. This has resulted in a widespread famine. At the same time, Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is being set free after twenty years in Siberia as a political prisoner. After being brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest, Lakota is given an immediate audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now not only deal with his own self-doubt and the struggle of his friend Fr. Telemond, who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, but also find a solution to the crisis in China.