In the mountain city of Ondinium, where the Great Engine determines everyone's future, and society is divided into three rigid castes, Taya is an icarus. These chosen couriers, trained to fly over the city on metal wings, are outside the castes, permitted to go anywhere and speak to anyone as their tasks dictate. Yet following a daring rescue, Taya finds herself drawn deeper into the politics of the ruling uppercaste - the exalted - than she would like, by two exceptional brothers. The brilliant and charming Alister, who programs for the Great engine itself, and his disapproving older brother, Cristof, who exiled himself down to Ondinium's lowest sphere.
As danger and intrigue abound and terrorists attack the city, Taya can't help investigate the secrets that surround both brothers. Something is wrong in Ondinium, and she suspects a Forlore brother might be at the heart. But which? And as she unravels yet more secrets, does she really want to know?
From the smoking Tertius streets, into the heart of the Great Engine, Pagliasotti's story is rich with details that create a fascinating world. Wealthy and vast, Ondinium has many secrets to its success, and many who would kill to steal them. And rising above all this danger are the wondrous icarii, with their ingenious wings and gravity defying skill.
Yet this story is more than its setting, and is populated by an array of great characters. At the centre is Taya, loyal and determined, if too trusting at times. With her unthinking courage you can't help liking her, even when she's being a little dim. Then there are the Forlores, golden Alister and Cris, the gangly crow, so different and yet so similar. There's also Pyke and Cassi, fellow icarii and best friends to Taya, and the boisterous bunch of Alister's programming team. All interesting and well developed in their own right, they further help to enrich this tale.
Filled with mystery, secret plots and unpleasant surprises, Pagliassotti's first novel is a delight. Fascinating setting, great characters, an intriguing plot with a hint of romance and plenty of clockwork, this is enjoyable on every level. I want more from this world.