Forty years after the God Wars, the city of Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation-especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods' decaying edicts. As long as the gods' wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be leased upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, both to protect the city from certain doom and to lay a new foundation for prosperity. But the Skittersill's people have their own ideas about progress. A protest rises against Elayne's work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son. As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, ancient grudges break to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace-or failing that, to save as many people as they can.