With the death of his father, Tsu Ma becomes T’ang of West Asia, struggling, alongside his fellow T’ang who make up the ruling Seven, to maintain stasis and prevent change, even as the “War That Wasn’t A War”, is fought within the levels of Chung Kuo’s great world-spanning City: a war fought not with armies on battlefields, but with an inventive evil – with bombs and betrayals, brutal assassinations and sly poisonings.
And even as this is happening, other factors – seemingly unimportant of themselves – are adding to the pressure for change. One of these is the child genius, Kim Ward’s creation of ‘the Aristotle File’ – a document that charts the true history of this world, not the version invented and policed by the Ministry – the “Thousand Eyes” – who have, for so long, maintained this great secret, this dark shadow at the very heart of Chung Kuo. Its discovery by the Dispersionists will fuel their ardent desire for change and an end to Han rule.
Lined up against DeVore and the Dispersionists are a handful of men utterly loyal to the Seven – men like General Tolonen, along with the two men he has recruited from the Lowers., Gregor Karr and Kao Chen. Kao Chen’s experiences convince him of the evil of DeVore and his allies, yet it is the giant, Karr, with his supreme athleticism and fearlessness, whom Tolonen uses, like a hawk, to fly against his enemies and destroy the newly-built generation starship, The New Hope. It is this decision, to act directly against the Dispersionists, that will change Chung Kuo for good in what is, effectively, a declaration of war.