Another tale set in the weird alternate past of Rats and Gargoyles (1991), with some of the characters in common. In Gentle's 17th-century England, magic, alchemy, and science all work, demons and ghosts are real, and an amnesty has been declared in the Civil War between the forces of Queen Carola and Protector- General Olivia. Olivia sends a message to Lord Architect Casaubon requesting his help to complete a sun temple whose unruly foundations are infested with demons. The messenger, a mercenary named Pollexfen Calmady, meanwhile rapes Desire-of-the-Lord--a woman bringing a message to Casaubon's wife, the mage-physician White Crow, to the effect that Olivia requests the White Crow's aid in bribing Queen Carola to leave the country, thereby avoiding further bloodshed. Later, the White Crow is dismayed to learn that Desire, believing herself loathsomely diseased after the rape, has killed herself. So Calmady, swiftly condemned by both Carola and Olivia, will hang at Tyburn unless the White Crow relents and arranges his rescue. Thoughtfully strange, less complicated and more approachable than Rats, while Anglophile readers may find amusement in detecting the genuine historical characters here. The drawback, however, is the pushy narrative: matters would flow more agreeably, and Gentle would win more friends, if she stopped trying to overpower her audience.