In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities that would see her sterilised or burned if discovered, it is also dangerous. There is only survival by secrecy, and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers. But it is as if they have their own imperative, and their use inevitably brings her to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land . . .