Willa Bresher wants her life to matter. Her home is Haven, a network of villages clinging to civilization three centuries after a plague devastated Earth's population. But Haven feels too small for the big dreams of a confident and restless young woman like Willa.
She bolts from the threat of marriage for an apprenticeship with an arcane guild of mind-linked stewards, who guide the flow of goods and information between villages. Her mentor is a visionary leader with a radical plan for Haven's future. Willa needs to prove she's as smart and daring as any man in order to secure a place in that future.
When she encounters an intriguing outsider named Akenam in the ruins of an ancient city, Willa's path begins to veer off course. Space-dwelling humans have returned to resettle the planet, and their intentions toward the aboriginal Terrans are unclear. Willa follows Akenam to a distant island to join five other envoys at a summit meeting to determine the future courses of all their civilizations.
There she clashes with the summit leader, a 370-year-old scientist with a grudge against Haven. Akenam has been assigned as her aide, but she doubts his loyalty and resists his friendship. Back home, Willa's former mentor is determined to make himself Haven's first king. And a message from her long-dead mother may be the key to unlocking a centuries-old conspiracy that threatens her people.
Willa never meant for her life to matter this much.