First installment of a projected fantasy trilogy from the author of the splendid The Cursed (p. 350), etc. In 1914, just as WW I breaks out in Europe, young English gentleman Edward Exeter awakens in a hospital ward with a smashed leg and only scattered memories, and under police guard as a murder suspect. Then an insane female assassin materializes at his bedside, intent on finishing him off. He is rescued by the mysterious Mr. Oldcastle and conveyed to Stonehenge, a ``node'' of ``virtuality'' where it's possible to cross into other realitiesor so the disbelieving Edward is forced to accept after Mr. Oldcastle magically heals his leg. Meanwhile, in an adjacent reality known as Nextdoor, 12-year- old Eleal Singer learns of a prophecy, the Filoby Testament, which details her involvement with a certain D'ward Kisster, the Liberator. In Nextdoor, it seems, the godsthose who've crossed from other realities become immortal and charged with magic ``mana''easily grow bored and are disposed to play one-upmanship games. On both worlds, the Service (good guys) opposes the Chamber (bad guys). When Edward arrives, he finds that the god Tion is determined to make Edward into a god himself. But Edward, rejecting Tion and his crazy games, must betray poor Eleal in order to return to England. Duncan has a wonderful knack of conjuring up wacky scenarios and making them believable and fascinating; his characters are perky and distinctive, and his narratives strike an ideal balance between whimsy and gravity. Another winnerkeep all eyestalks extended for Round Two.