On a distant planet named Anu, three narratives emerge of a world in transition. One is Sinkin, a member of a defeated quadruped species known as the Suvuka. They had mounted a war of aggression and were defeated by the Tolku. The Suvuka are now confined to a small portion of what had been their home continent. He is a youth now beginning a rite of passage into adulthood involving running with a few members of his herd through a long course culminating in an arduous challenge. The other two are the species that defeated the Suvuka but are divided against each other. One is a Tolku youth named Seti, a waif picked up by a merchant ship because he says he can speak to the invisible spirits of the old religion and can read dreams. While he is in many ways extraordinary he also suffers from delusions. The other is a young Tolku woman who lives within the seat of power of the new force, named Shuna-Shapta. She studies to become an Invocate, able to travel within the 'Skin of Anu' and work within the Tatchlan System. She and her community of Masters face a rebellion from within Tatchlan itself. These three disparate characters lead their attendant associates across the planet to unlikely meetings with each other, as the fate of the future is determined.