First installment of a fantasy trilogy, from the author of the mass market Delta City (1996), etc. Captive daemons, cruelly confined and tortured, produce the motive power for vehicles and machines in Savage's oddball world. Ferupe, with its dying Queen Lithrea the Second, is at war with neighboring Kirekune, whose tailed inhabitants are ruled by the Lizard Significant. Young half-breed Crispin, forced to depart his circus home after a fatal accident, faces prejudice (he's tall and black) as he seeks work and shelter. He meets Rue, a young Kirekunian woman who has cut off her tail to become inconspicuous among the Ferupians. After various adventures, they find themselves in the Waste--a borderland where, in their flimsy daemon-powered aircraft, the two opposing air forces battle it out. Eventually, the pair are captured by Ferupian soldiers, accused of spying, and imprisoned. Crispin, thinking Rae dead, becomes a pilot; Rue, thinking Crispin dead, becomes priestess Rain. As Ferupe begins to lose the war, Crispin naively collaborates in a plot to kill a superior officer and is forced to flee for his life. Noisy, chaotic, not even half thought out: an unconvincing grab-bag of an opener.