Alexander's latest once-upon-a-time adventure, unfolded this time with no recourse to magic, brings Theo, an orphaned printer's devil and a true innocent, up against a repressive government that has policemen break into the printing shop, kill his master, and destroy the press--all because they've accepted an order from a traveling quack, the self-styled Dr. Absalom. Theo, in the melée, knocks out an officer, fears he's killed him (and agonizes later because he'd momentarily wanted to), and so becomes a fugitive. (When he goes to report the incident, a sympathetic local policeman as much as orders him to flee.) For a while Thee travels reluctantly with Dr. Absalom himself, a likable rogue also known as Count Las Bombas, and becomes fond of Mickle, a street waif they pick up along the way. Later Thee falls in with a band of revolutionaries, though it's a while before he recognizes what they're up to, and he remains impartially perplexed over their opposition to monarchy per se vs. the more moderate position of their temporary ally, the exiled but loyal court doctor who just wants to get fid of the king's tyrannical chief minister Cabbarus. Cabbarus, we've learned, seized power while the distraught king grieved unendingly for his presumably dead daughter--but he's brought down now when Mickle's true identity is revealed. During the final unmasking, Thee appeases his conscience by risking his life to save that of the hated minister; and in the end he is closer to the monarchy than he'd ever expected to be. A cavalier treatment of the political questions raised earlier, but a colorful and nimbly executed adventure.