Brophy's critical study of Ronald Firbank a few years back was titled Prancing Novelist, and Brophy herself is very much up on the balls of her feet here as she trips through the make-believe contemporary kingdom of Evarchia and its comic adornments of psychiatry, communism, bureaucracy (the King's winter palace has hardly any chairs; a royal commission is formed to study the feasibility of purchasing more), the Church, and labor-unions. When the King takes ill, his heirs disqualify themselves one by one from succession. Crown Prince Ulrich, spurned by a chippy who doesn't want to be mixed up with royalty, exiles himself to Sweden. Second-born Sempronius is assassinated by a crazy. Third son Balthasar dies in an accident. Fourth-in-line Urban suicidally gives in to his vertigo and falls off a tower. And teenaged Archduchess Heather, only daughter and a confirmed lesbian, doesn't give a damn. When the King dies, a military coup--what else?--takes over and fills the vacuum. Brophy's satire is bright, her hand deft and fey (""Even through the circumambient fumes of petroleum his nose caught at the scents of the Island. They reminded him of flute music""), ""A baroque novel,"" we are alerted in the subtitle--and so it is. For readers who delight in the charms of Brophy-style butter-cream-icing tableaux, then, a royal romp (reminiscent of The Abbess of Crewe and Kind Hearts and Coronets) with all messages safely tucked under the whipped cream.