There's but one Orb-Earth. It's divided between the Outsiders and the Barbarians. Each see the existence of the other as a personal affront that must be eliminated. Outsiders control the Northern Sphere while the Barbarians control the Southern Sphere. Orb-Earth also contains vast unsettled areas with a diversity of flora and fauna; it's a place filled with mystical deserts and mountains and wildernesses. It's a place too where The Land of The Rising Lights exists. This land, akin to Paradise, is where collective ideals disintegrate and Individuals are re-created into their original state of being. Outsiders and Barbarians have no interest in the Land of The Rising Lights, or, in Individuals. They believe in the collective way, and absolute majority rule. Both societies are driven by the crowd and mob rule. Dissent is not tolerated. Nothing can be achieved by the Individual or through individual action; that's considered a sign of weakness, to be mocked, suppressed, and destroyed. Human success can be achieved only through united actions forged by common ideals. To exist beyond the institution, beyond the state, beyond mass ideas is viewed with absolute terror. The Individual alone is identified as the danger who, unless constrained, will always commit the worst crimes against society. As the book opens, there has been a hundred years truce between Outsiders and Barbarians. However, the truce is about to end. Orb-Earth will be turned on its axis. What has changed? A child has been born in the midst of Outsider Society, a child called Mutilation, a child who, by his mere existence, challenges the collective ideals of the Outsiders. In the colossal struggle that follows, institutions and societies hang in the balance.