Jason Worthing comes from a planet totally covered over with steel, where the elite take a drug that causes them to sleep agelessly for years at a time, “skipping through time as a stone skips over water,” so they can pretend to live forever. Lared comes from a planet roughly technologically similar to medieval times, a planet that until recently, until the Day of Pain, did not have true pain, fresh grief, or accidents with consequences.
Throughout time some have thought Jason was a god, after all, he came out of the starship which brought forth man, animals, and crops. He came from the heavens and walked on water, along with his companion, Justice. But really Jason is only a man. True, he is a man who reads minds and memories so thoroughly that he sometimes confuses others memories with his own, but he is still just a man. Lared is just a boy, a boy who helps around the farm, but he can read and write. He can receive dreams and can tell a story.
Jason needs someone through whom his story can be told, Lared is chosen because through his mostly unlearned quill, the story will be simple and, hopefully, have the simple ring of truth. Jason needs to explain why the Day of Pain occurred on this and every world and what his part in the story was.
Lared is becoming a man and, in this new world which contains pain, that means more in more ways than it ever has before.
What is it about? It is science fiction and also somewhat fantasy. It is about growing up, memories, defining moments, pain and joy and sorrow. I think it is most deeply a philosophical book. It is a book which seeks to answer why some pain occurs; why grief, betrayal, and want can be a blessing. It strives to show how living one day at a time, instead of trying so hard to live forever, is really the best way, because it is lived side by side with others that we love.
It is a little slow at times but it is also really and truly interesting. Also, some of it is quite thought provoking. Though it certainly doesn't make sense of all pain, suffering, and hardship; it does, perhaps, make sense of some and seeks to explain why a god would allow these things to come to man.
I would rate it a strong PG-13 or maybe an R for violence, gore, sexual content (it doesn't go into details), and tough subject matter.