The city of Clarges is a near-utopia, surrounded by barbarism throughout the rest of the world. Abundant resources and the absence of political conflict lead to a pleasant life that should be stress-free. However, nearly everyone is obsessed with a perpetual scramble for status, called slope. Medical technology has led to a great lengthening of the human lifespan, but, in order to prevent the Malthusian horrors of over-population, it is awarded only to those citizens who have made notable contributions.
The Grayven Warlock was one of those accomplished few, but he has become a fugitive after a feud with another Amaranth resulted in the latter's death. Masquerading as his own relict, using the name Gavin Waylock, he lives in obscurity, looking for the accomplishment that will reinstate him among the immortals. However, Waylock's dramatic stratagems may result in changes to society far beyond anything he had intended...