Sorrel has grown up in Amat, a small settlement of hunters, herbalists, foragers and gardeners who live in a valley on the edge of the Rotten Woods. This simple life, where wood prawns (giant woodlice) and bats are prized sources of nutrition, and bat skin is used for clothing, is all she has known until a horde of mutants attacks the village. They destroy Amat, killing many and taking others prisoner, including her brother Eli, and David, the boy she loves. Now Sorrel must embark on a perilous solo journey to find them.
David is captured by the mutant gang when they invade Amat. He is chained to the other prisoners and they are hard-marched south over the dangerous ruins of Desolation Road. He tries to escape but his efforts are thwarted by one of his own. He is punished by the mutants and disturbed when their leader takes a shine to Sorrel’s young brother. As for Sorrel, he has no idea what has become of her. He whispers her name to the stars but if the universe hears, it does not answer. He can only hope that somewhere, somehow, she is still alive.
Einstein is a mutant captured by an unforgiving religious cult called The Free, who rule the coastal village of Ulbroom. Living in the surviving stone buildings of the Before times, the villagers have enough to eat and appear to want for nothing, but all is not as it seems. The Free believe that mutants are a physical manifestation of sin, a reminder to all of the Creator’s wrath visited on mankind. Einstein is kept in chains outside their place of worship where he is tormented by all. His only chance for escape is the mutant-loathing Sorrel.
With no-one to maintain them, the great skyscrapers of the past crumble and fall. Roads are shattered by the frosts of bitter winters then obscured by the tendrils of spring and summer's fronds. Soon, all that was built in the Before times is shrouded by giant ferns and creeping green.
The walled city of Dinawl is policed by an army of Bailiffs and ruled by the ethereal Monitors. Built on slavery, and driven by coin, Dinawl is a place of corruption where rats are bred and sold as fast food, mutants are tolerated, and public hangings both control and entertain the mob.
Of all the tribes inhabiting these dark times, none is so feared and abhorred as the cannibalistic Sawneys. Scar-faced and with teeth and nails sharpened to razor edges, they live beyond the Wild Woods on the edge of the great Wasteland where they set traps for the unwary.
“We have to do what’s right for the new dawn, Sorrel. It’s simple
/ ALL PERSONS ARE EQUAL /
// MUTANTS ARE NOT PERSONS //
/// EVERYONE, WHETHER PERSON OR MUTANT, MUST CONTRIBUTE - THERE
IS NO PLACE FOR USELESS EATERS. ///