Imre is a Dancer of the White Pavilion and a courtesan in training. When she falls when performing the Dance of a Thousand Steps, a dance that has been performed every year for the past 500 years, she believes she has disrupted the will of the Pattern and is responsible for the disasters befalling her world.
Called to the Citadel by the Principe Thaniel she believes she is to be punished for her mistake. But at the Citadel, Imre finds the prince is both more and less than he seems. And even as Imre adjusts to her new life, the Brotherhood tightens its grip over the rotting, rusting metal city from their pedestal in the sky, and Imre finds her heart and loyalties torn between the Prince and Senor Grath, his Adviser.
But on a broken world that moves to the ticking of the Pendulum and the spinning of the Wheel, can Imre prevent her world from being torn apart?