THE SLOUCHING FIELDS
Without Mirch, their forests would disappear.
Slouches would steal from them.
Westlanders would attack.
Mirch is the best of the giants, and Mirchena is the best of the Capitals. Mirch lets his Hands and their families live on his land without much fuss, brings timber for their stoves, raises them high on the day they come of age.
Wagoner Squirrel and Carver Mora and their young friends still have the run of the village. Once they're Raised, they'll begin their lives as Hands, working eight days out of nine for themselves and for Mirch, earning the respect work brings.
For handy is as handy does, and honor lies in work,
And we can all be proud because we never think to shirk.
Squirrel will be a Wagoner like his family, and Mora, well, if she doesn't become a Carver, she'll apprentice to some other trade. There are many trades to choose from in Mirchena.
But disaster strikes Mora’s family, leaving doubt that she will ever become a Hand. And Squirrel’s home becomes a refuge for a strange boy, a person he can tell no one about. For the first time in their lives, the friends are separated. First on their own and then together, Squirrel and Mora encounter unsettling questions about how good and benevolent Mirch really is. And there are other questions about the forbidden enclave of Fively, about what is afoot in the enemy Westlands, and about what will become of the wretched outcasts in the dreary Slouching Fields.