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At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics. Instead, they are taught to persuade. The very best will graduate as 'poets': adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive. Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff becomes the school's most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love. Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. In order to survive, Wil must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.