Earth in its penultimate age: ancient, inbred, bucolic, full of antique secrets and even more archaic intrigues. Under a melancholy orange sun, decaying aristocratic families still wield their feudal powers after thousands of generations; but the Archon is their subtle absolute ruler, and he has placed certain cruel excesses, and certain abandoned country estates, permanently out of bounds...
Luff Imbry, corpulent master thief, must penetrate one of those forbidden properties. For millennia ago, a sadistic nobleman built there an underground maze, its walls hung with priceless works of art, its corridors stalked by intelligent torture machines, a secret domain where the corrupt blue-blood would imprison and torment anyone who offended him. Determined to liberate the most precious of the labyrinth's treasures, Imbry recruits an unwilling "ghost" – the preserved essence of the mad duke's long-dead granddaughter – as his guide. But in the twisted darkness, the fat man finds that the dead cannot always be trusted.
In his latest witty tale of the Archonate, Matthew Hughes sets his most engaging character on a collision course with forces dark and devious. Can even the legendary craftiness of Luff Imbry triumph without aid from higher powers?