In a futuristic fantasy from paperback author Williams, set millennia after some disaster has destroyed a technological civilization, a huge poetic jumble (drawn principally from William Blake's prophetic books), known as the Text, is accepted as holy writ and considered to possess magical properties. But eerie, wandering Absences--swirling, terrifying blobs of magical other- reality--are slowly eroding the landscape and now threaten to annihilate Arcady, the sprawling estate occupied for centuries by the Hawken family. In the Border forests nearby, a civil war rages between Citizen Arouet's guardsmen and Hawken cousin Artemis's rebel partisans. Aunt Morgana summons the various, far-flung Hawken relatives to defend Arcady, and they respond. Then, however, Morgana rushes off, brother Solomon decamps, brother Endymion flees with his companion phoenix, Khole, while one-legged Diego's incompetent guardsmen clash with Artemis's well-drilled partisans. Inside an Absence, Khole is transformed into an angel and instructs Solomon on how, using real magic, he must tame the Absences--which are sentient and evil and have been set adrift by Arouet's mining operations. A sort of ecological parable? Maybe--the ideas here have a certain alluring, incoherent sumptuousness. A shame, though, about the long-winded narrative, unevocative prose, and whimsical plotting.