After a disastrous defeat, the Commonwealth flees before the floater onslaught, as the two men sent to ensure its survival balance the fate of humanity on a razor's edge...
Caught in the thick of the Commonwealth's retreat with the advance guards, Khariton has found the respect and appreciation he's craved all his life. He's convinced his mission is no longer relevant, but the war isn't done with him and his comrades yet. Stranded on Nadir, Commander Miron and Zakhar set out with Azial to find the prize that may save the Commonwealth, as Miron's guilt over the lives lost under his command slowly becomes an obsession. Azial doesn't trust the outsiders, but without their protection, Balbasu's alliance with the loud men will destroy the Udaki tribe. Should the Udaki trust an enemy, or risk fighting the loud men alone?
After breaking with Azial, Seruya stands ready to destroy the loud men for good, when a chance discovery undermines her resolve. Going through with her intentions will stain her forever, but the Udaki can't resist the loud men on their own, leaving Seruya to weigh the survival of her tribe against the cost to her soul.
Shura and Kirill are living on borrowed time, fleeing the floater assault with the remains of the Commonwealth. Although she's found the outlaws she'd meant to find on Marshal, they're not what she expected, and when her son's secret is finally revealed, they threaten to make him a central figure in the war with the floaters.
In the midst of the turmoil on Nadir, a jaded hunter arrives in the village of the loud men. He's come to test himself against the monsters of the jungle, but what he finds is far more dangerous than anything he's faced before...