The ‘War of the Two Directions’ has intensified. Ko Ming – ‘revolutionary’ – activity is rife, culminating in the Ping Tiao attack on the Bremen stack, which kills over fifteen thousand innocent citizens. Behind this, and behind a new splinter cult, the Yu, is our old friend DeVore – or, at least, a convincing copy of him – while at his side is the emotionless albino, Stefan Lehmann, son of an old Dispersionist leader, and as cold and cruel as DeVore himself.
Whereas once there was unanimity, now things are far from well within the Sevenm with the odious Wang Sau-leyan sowing the seeds of division between the T’ang. For Prince Li Yuan, personal events overtake public considerations, when Fei Yen, heavily pregnant, defies him and goes riding. He kills all her horses – doing the act himself – and she, furious with him, leaves, returning to her father’s house. There, a week later, she rejects him again, telling him that the child she bears is not his.
Kim Ward’s true history of the world – his ‘Aristotle File’ – grows more and more influential with every year, undermining the work of the Ministry, the ‘Thousand Eyes’. Kim has been working for Li Yuan on a new project. Suddenly his life is threatened when the labs are attacked by assassins. Everyone else is killed bar Kim, who – his darkest instincts from the Clay switching in, savagely fights his way to freedom. Afterwards he hides away in the warren of ducts, in a badly traumatised state, until sage and master of wei ch’i, the ancient Tuan Ti Fo, led by a dream finds him and rescues him once more.
With Li Shai Tung’s death, Li Yuan finally becomes T’ang of Europe and one of the Seven. His first act is to have Fei Yen tested, to see whose child it is. Then he divorces her, marrying three new wives; wives who, in time, he will come to love. But for now his heart is empty and his mind numbed by what has happened.
But there’s a new threat to the Seven; the ‘Sons of Benjamin Franklin’, or ‘the Sons’ as they are better known, a group of rich young Americans, heirs to their fathers’ Companies, who want change as fiercely as any lower-level Ko Ming groups.