This is the first volume of the Helliconia trilogy - a monumental saga which goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today's imaginative writers. An entire solar system is revealed, and with a world disturbingly reflective of our own, Helliconia: an Earth-like planet where dynasties change with the seasons. In the beginning, a solitary lad, Yuli, sets out from the icy barriers after his father has been captured by phagors. It is winter, the centuries-long Helliconian winter. Yuli enters the priesthood of an underworld where darkness is holy and holiness has power over individuals. He learns of warrior mystics called Keppers and of an even more secret elite, the lascivious Takers. Through trials and wonders, he worked his way back to the world of the day to found a city called Oldorando, where his descendents recall his name because he rejected his faith in favour of his people. Later in the history of Oldorando, Aoz Roon enters the picture - a leader with a dark past; Shay Tal, a sorceress who is his loving adversary; young Laintal Ay, who alters the course of history, and many other memorable characters. Again we encounter the phagors, that beats-species which is man's unalterable rival. Over the years, phagor armies cross a continent to conquer Oldorando - an Oldorando now in the grip of violent change, as winter yields to brilliant spring. Events and characters and animals stream across the pages of this gigantic novel. Cosmic in scope, it keeps an eye lovingly on the humans involved. So the 5,000 inhabitants of the Earth's observation station above Helliconia keep their eyes trained on the events of Oldorando and may long ot intervene though the dangers are too great. So we on Earth have them all in our vision in one of the most consuming and magnificent novels of scientific romance.