Diamond is an odd little boy, a seemingly fragile child—who proves to be anything but. An epic story begins when he steps into the world his parents have so carefully kept him from, a world where gigantic trees each house thousands of humans and another human species, the papio, rule its far edges. Does Diamond hold the promise to remake one species and, perhaps, change all of the Creation?
The adults around Diamond tell him that he is sickly and vulnerable, but the boy is, in fact, far more durable than his adopted people. He is a living relic of the mysterious Creators who shaped the odd realm in which the novel is set. The revelation of his nature is a catalyst for mass murder, coups, and open warfare between two human civilizations. Diamond is not the only relic to be recovered from the deeps, and his siblings are ruthless monsters who are certain of their innate superiority over the mortals around them, with little in the way of empathy to curb their confident excesses. As disruptive as they are, the odd children are perhaps the only path to the truth behind the Creation, if the peoples of this world can survive the chaos they inspire. Reed's three-part story is rich in strangeness, spectacle, grand battles, and breakneck action, but there are few complex characters, and the plot is unusually cursory for a work of this length. The three sections of this fractal fix-up never quite satisfy, individually or together.