A ""shared world"" trilogy in one volume, offering connected novels by three of this publisher's most popular authors (the credits page lists over two dozen of their previous works), collaborating for the first time. The setting is an imaginary quasi-Mediterranean country, Tira Virte, where a close alliance between political power and fine art is the norm. Contracts, treaties, wills, and important occasions are recorded not in writing but in painting, and the Grand Duke considers the Lord Limner (the court artist) his most significant appointment. As the story begins, we learn that one family of artists, the Grijalvas, has fallen into disfavor despite their exceptional technique. One young Grijalva artist, Sario, strikes a deal with the mysterious Tza'ab, a descendant of the hereditary enemies of Tira Virte, to learn how to combine painting with magic. At the same time, his beautiful cousin Saavedra becomes the official mistress of the Grand Duke's son--planning to use her influence to make a Grijalva the next Lord Limner. In a fit of jealousy, Sario uses his magic to imprison her inside a painting; he then makes use of his powers to transfer himself into the body of a younger man, thereby escaping the early death that awaits all Grijalva painters. So begins a multigenerational saga in which Sario, in different embodiments, and the official mistresses (the title is now a Grijalva perquisite) influence Tira Virtean life and art. We jump three centuries ahead to an era when the still thriving Sario's plans are temporarily thwarted by the equally insidious schemes of the mistress, then at last to an even later era where revolution threatens to turn Tira Virte into a modern nation with little room for either Grand Dukes or Grijalvas. In overall effect, this resembles nothing so much as a fantasy soap opera on a grand scale--exactly as might be expected from the authors' previous work.