Az Gabrielson, the wingless boy, is going where none of the Airborn have gone before . . .
Az is one of the Airborn. With a stretch and a beat of their eight foot wings his people travel effortlessly around and between their cities, perched high above the clouds. Its a life of ease and airy beauty.
Only Az has no wings, so in his glorious world of freedom and flight, he is a painful - and isolated - oddity.
And then one day he is picked out for a job. A job below the clouds. The system of massive automated elevators which send up everything the Airborn need to survive, are breaking down - and threatening to take the Airborn society with them. Someone has to go down to the Ground to find out what has happened and Az, with his wingless similarity to the prehistoric Groundlings, looks to be perfect for the task of hunting for answers beneath the clouds.
But on the Ground, in the vast shadows of the cities, Az finds more questions than answers: a benighted people who worship a dim notion of the Airborn and aspire to be like them. A people who fill elevators with tributes to their winged deities. A people who are beginning to think their way of life is part of a very un-natural order of things.
And a girl called Cassie Grubdollar, who's definitely no angel . . .