The novel takes place on the planet of Worlorn, a world which is dying. It is a rogue planet whose erratic course is taking it irreversibly far from its neighboring stars into a region of cold and dark space where no life will survive. Worlorn's 14 cities, built during a brief window when the world passed close enough to a red giant star to permit life to thrive, are dying, too. Built to celebrate the diverse cultures of 14 planetary systems, they have largely been abandoned, allowing their systems and maintenance to fail.The cast is a group of characters who are also flirting with death. Dirk t'Larien, the protagonist, finds life empty and of little attraction after his girlfriend Gwen Delvano leaves him. Most poignant of all, the Kavalar race, into which she has "married," is dying culturally. Their home planet has survived numerous attacks in a planetary war, and in response they have evolved social institutions and human relationship patterns to cope with the depredation of the war. Yet now that the war is long past, they find themselves trapped between those who would recognize that the old ways need to be reviewed for the current day and those who believe that any dilution of the old ways spells the end of Kavalar culture.The battles, then, of all these varying actors are played out beneath the dying light falling on Worlorn. By the novel's end, many of the characters have died, though the author leaves some endings deliberately ambiguous. Nonetheless, they have all faced their fears of death and of life.