The year is 1909. It has been ten years since Thomas Argyle, Charlie Cooper and Livia Naylor set off a revolution by releasing Smoke upon the world. They were raised to think Smoke was a sign of sin manifest, but later learned that its suppression was really a means of controlling society. Smoke allowed people to mingle their emotions and truly connect, and the trio hoped that freeing the Smoke would bring down the oppressive power structure, creating a fair and open society. But the consequences were far greater than they had imagined, and the world has fractured. Erasmus Renfrew, the avowed enemy of Smoke, is now Lord Protector of what remains of the English state. Charlie and Livia live in Minetowns, an egalitarian workers' community in the north of England that lives by Smoke. Thomas Argyle is in India on a clandestine mission to find out the origins of Smoke, and why the newly risen East India Company is mounting an expedition in the Himalayas. Mowgli, the boy from the jungle, whose body was used to trigger the tempest that unleashed the Smoke, now makes a living as a chameleon-like thief in New York. And Elizabeth Renfrew, Erasmus's niece, who was the subject of his cruel experiments in suppressing Smoke, is in hiding from her uncle in provincial Canada. What she endured has given her a strange power over Smoke, which she fears as much as her uncle.