Final part of Ford's hitherto memorable fantasy trilogy (The Physiognomy, 1997; Memoranda, 1999) about ex-physiognomist Cley, his former Master, Drachton Below, and Below's adoptive son, the humanized demon Misrix, who now haunts the ruins of Below's Well-Built City. Cley, accompanied by the remarkable black dog Wood, must now journey into the vast, surreal Beyond, to beg forgiveness of Arla Beaton, the woman he wronged, and whose green gauze veil he carries in remembrance. Joined at first by Misrix, Cley and Wood learn how to kill demons with dispatch. Soon, though, Misrix himself reverts to demonkind and must leave lest he kill Cley in a fit of demonic passion. Cley and Wood continue their journey, in Misrix's mind at least, while Misrix returns to the realm of humanity and tries to win the acceptance of the folk of the village Wenau, where Cley lived and practiced midwifery. Misrix, by demonically magical means, purports to follow and record Cley's progress—which consists largely of standard fantasy adventures and a final epiphany. Despite saving a young girl from drowning, Misrix, far from being accepted by the villagers, finds himself accused of Cley's murder.
Heavy with ambiguity and symbolism, but the story itself never rises far above the mundane: a demonstration of what can happen when an initially splendid concept is pushed far beyond its natural design limits.