Third entry in Flynn’s far-future space opera, following Up Jim River (2010, etc.), wherein two human empires, the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery, struggle for dominance—although, thanks to Flynn's veering, elliptical narrative, it's difficult to deduce even this much without knowledge of the previous books.
On planet Dangchao Waypoint, the mistress of Clanthompson Hall, Bridget ban, a Hound or agent of the League, seeks news of Donovan buigh, a scarred former Shadow, or operative of the Confederation, her former lover and father of her daughter, the harper Méarana. The great powers of the Confederacy, Those of Name, tortured Donovan to fragment his mind into seven distinct personalities (though he seems to have added a couple more since), each with its own distinct talents. Powerful Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr ghosts into the Hall to reveal Donovan's fate despite the fact that Hound and Shadow are mortal foes. A civil war, it emerges, smolders in the Lion’s Mouth, the control arm of the Shadows, between Those of Name and a rebellious faction that seeks to depose them. Or not, as it turns out. Donovan miraculously escaped the horrors inflicted by the Names, and now the rebels have dispatched Ravn to recruit or at least capture him. Unknown to everybody—except, possibly, Ravn—Donovan's separated personalities have begun to communicate and access their common memories, making him even more formidable than before. Donovan, however, wants only to retire to Earth. While individual scenes are pellucid and logical, with dazzling battle sequences, it's never clear what's going on at any level, not to mention dialogue that strays from standard English into a variety of exotic vernaculars ranging from broad Scots to a sort of comical futuristic hoot.
Fascinating and intelligent—at times a bit too clever for its own good—if elusive, the sort of yarn you can appreciate and enjoy if not fully apprehend.