Imre is a Dancer of the White Pavilion. As a follower of Aurelia, the Whore, one of the seven companions who accompanied la Relojero (the clock maker) to Tierra Mejór, she is also a courtesan in training. When Imre falls when performing the Dance of a Thousand Steps, a dance that has been performed every year for the past five hundred years, she believes she has disrupted the will of the Pattern and is now responsible for the disasters befalling her world. Called to the Citadel by the taciturn Principe Thaniel, she is certain she is about to be punished for her mistake.
But when she arrives, Imre finds the prince is both more and less than he seems. Now, while trying to adjust to her new life in the Citadel and dealing with the hatred of Senor Grath, the Principe Regente’s Adviser, Imre must discover why Thaniel is yet to be named king.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood, a suspicious sect, tightens its grip over the rotting, rusting metal city, Cuidad mas Grande – The Grand City – from their pedestal in the sky. Even as Imre finds her heart and loyalties torn between the Prince and his Adviser, it is clear that the sect is determined to prevent Thaniel from taking his throne.
But on a broken world that moves to the ticking of the Pendulum and the spinning of the Wheel, can Imre prevent Tierra Méjor from being torn apart?