Greta is the crown princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower formed of modern-day Canada. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. Greta and the other hostages are Talis's strategy to keep the peace: if their countries enter a war, they are put to death. The system has worked for centuries. Parents don't want to see their children murdered. Greta will be free if she can make it to her 18th birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He's a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives, and is severely punished for it. Greta is furious that Elian has disrupted their quiet, structured world. But slowly, his rebellion opens her eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power. Then Elian's country declares war on Greta's and invades the Precepture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious and coming to mete out the punishment himself. Which means that Greta and Elian will surely be killed, unless Greta can think of a way to save them.