A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal, beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war. Jant is the Messenger, one of The Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor, and the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly. The Emperor is seeking to protect mankind from the hordes of giant insects who have plagued the land for centuries, overwhelming towns with their beautiful nests, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortals. These are squabbles that will soon spill over into open civil war. Steph Swainston has written an astonishingly original literary fantasy. She writes beautifully. Her novel places her in a tradition of writing typified by Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison and, latterly, China Mieville. This is a breathtaking debut novel of the finest quality.