Set on a distant planet, far in the future, West of January tells the story of a world in which the sun moves across the sky with agonizing slowness. It takes lifetimes for a region to experience dawn, midday, and dusk, and because of this the planets population does not remember the catastrophes that occur as the sun moves across the skyentire civilizations have been scorched into oblivion. The only people who remember the dangers of the past are the planets "angels"a people who have tried to preserve past technologies and ancient knowledge, and who work to try to save the other people from the destruction that threatens them when the sun moves.
The hero of this book, Knobil, was born among the herdsmen, a primitive civilization in which the men kill one another and exile their sons so that each man can have as many women and children as possible. Knobil, however, is the son of an angel, and his destiny leads him to move among all the other peoples of his worldthe beautiful but unthinking seafolk, the cruel slavers, the manipulative traders, and, worst of them all, the spinsters whose deadly secret he discovers nearly too late. This action-filled story of a very strange planet showcases Duncans remarkable ability to create unique worlds.