Direct, independently intelligible sequel to the intriguing Metropolitan (1995), set in a world encaged by an impregnable Shield raised by the mysterious Ascended Ones, where ancient buildings and structures generate a marvelous energy called ``plasm'' (which does, though, bear a curious resemblance to John Shirley's IAMton particles). Constantine, the powerful Metropolitan, has completed his conquest of the wicked city Caraqui and now is desperately short of plasm. He calls in his former collaborator and lover, Aiah, to help defeat the ubiquitous plasm thieves of the Silver Hand mafia. During her experiments with plasm, Aiah finds a way to penetrate the Shield (a likely stage- setter for a third volume). A counterrevolution is brewing, however, and Constantine's secret weapon--an irresistible plasm- demon assassin called Taikoen that consumes its victims from within--is corrupting his judgment. Through the resulting civil war, Aiah grows into a mover and shaker in her own right; still, her greatest challenge will be to destroy Taikoen and so save Constantine from himself. Broadly similar to its predecessor, with the same faults and virtues: fascinating scenario, solid storytelling, mediocre characters, and a disconnected, deeply unsatisfying present-tense narrative.