More or less independently intelligible sequel to Child of the River (1998). Confluence, a boat-shaped artificial world bounded on one edge by a huge river, on the other by lofty mountains, was constructed eons ago by the Builders at the behest of the godlike Preservers. Having left machines to maintain the system, the Preservers subsequently climbed into a black hole. The Builders were only the first of ten thousand bloodlines, these races non-human but genetically shaped to resemble the Ancients of Days, the original humans who vanished millions of years ago. Foundling Yama, of the bloodline of the Builders, seeks to find his people and gain answers to the riddles of his origin and purpose, and he now seeks clues in the mountainous Palace of the Memory of Man. Prefect Corin captures Yama, hoping to force Yama to develop his control of the machines that still throng Confluence. Yama, though, summons an irresistible hell-hound to help him escape. Meanwhile, a war rages at the world’s midpoint between those who revere the Preservers and the heretics who, as it emerges, want to seize control of Confluence. Pursued relentlessly by Corin, Yama takes a ship down river toward the war, only to learn that his foster father, the Aedile of Aeolis, is dying. In a shrine Yama discovers an “aspect,” or downloaded, copy of Angel, the last original human. She provides much information about Confluence and its various races but then threatens Yama, who calls up the hell-hound and destroys her. Finally, Yama must confront the evil apothecary, Dr. Dismas, and the ancient feral machines he serves. Once again, rich, challenging, and inventive, with a satisfying complexity: another extraordinary installment.