Time is the effective unit of currency in the Oubliette. Citizens are provided with a set amount of time that they track with their watch, and at the end of this period, their minds are transferred to The Quiet while their bodies are preserved. Time can be traded and spent on items or services. A supposedly secure system, the thief Jean Le Flambeur arrives in the Oubliette in an attempt to steal time from one of its wealthiest citizens Christian Unruh.