Aleks Vasin doesn't want any part of the life mapped out for him: a job in his father's shop and never traveling beyond his village in the westernmost corner of Siberene. He wants adventure and the chance to experience the eye-opening technology and medical advancements that are a part of every day life in the capital city. So Aleks heads to Rudavin, headquarters of the kingsguard, and signs up for the army, sure he can handle the brutality it entails. But after only a few weeks, Aleks realizes that this garrison is full of liars and thieves; he's signed away four years of his life to a commander crueler than the life Aleks just left. After a brutal beating, Aleks escapes, hoping to find safety and a new life somewhere in the north. And, on the way, he will find love, adventure, and a skyship full of technological discoveries beyond his wildest dreams. Aleks just might just prove himself a hero after all - if he can evade the soldiers who seek to capture him.