The metal City towers at the center of the mountain-ringed Heartland, squatting like a four-legged beast above the deep chasm of the Canyon. Within it dwells a stratified society ruled with an iron fist by the Officers and Crew. In the City, social standing is everything, signalled by the Tier on which one lives, from the hellish First and Second Tiers at the bottom of the City to the elevated Twelfth near the top, home of the highest-ranking Officers. Lording over all others is the Captain, who has dwelt in the inaccessible Thirteenth Tier for hundreds of years.
The young woman Alania, ward of First Officer Beruthi, lives on the Twelfth Tier, one of the City’s elite. The young man Danyll, ward of the mysterious scavenger named Erl, lives in the vast garbage heap beneath the City, where the dregs of society scrabble and fight for whatever they can find in the City’s rubbish, which has filled the Canyon to the brim over the centuries. Their two very different worlds collide when Alania is plunged from the Twelfth Tier into the rubbish heaps beneath the City, and both of them find themselves pursued by the City Crew, for reasons they cannot fathom—but which they must discover if they are to survive. The secrets they uncover, as they flee the trash-filled Canyon and crisscross the Heartland from the City’s farmlands to the mountains of the north and back again, will determine not only their fate, but the fate of the City…and everyone who lives there.