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Sixth book in The Nine Lives Of Michal Piech. Political hysteria has broken out in Ludlin after the rioting across the Empire. Gustave Peterson is on trial, seemingly for his life, and Wladyslaw Piech is investigating a murder perpetrated in the north and a tenement fire in the south.

Then a supposed witch is discovered dead on the outskirts of the city, at the hands of a group of angry peasants. Magic and sorcery erupt across the city and suddenly the nationalists and Empire have another weapon at their disposal...


  • Ban on Magic - well, there wasn't one before now...
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit" - Halina calls astral projection 'sleep-walking'.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus is Catholic - Father Gregory wears obviously Catholic vestments despite having a son-in-law and demonstrating that priests can marry; a biretta is mentioned.
  • Filler / Synchronous Episodes - this book and Points Of The Compass South West were written because otherwise there would have been an eighteen-month gap in continuity. The story overlaps with the other book to a reasonable extent but the fact that some earth-shattering political developments need expurgation lead the author to need the extra space that two books would give. This gives space to explore Peterson's trial and to examine what continued to happen in Ludlin after Michal's departure.
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  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients - Magnus Hendrick averts this good and hard, being a nasty piece of work whom Michal has to try and defend based on an accusation against Peterson which is later used against the journalist. Also - Peterson is guilty, but only of the minor crime of couriering, not of all of which he is accused.
  • Good Shepherd - Father Gregory in accepting Leo despite his conviction for fraud. He has to be diplomatic, as he has a living on the land of a fairly important landholder south of the Bree, but balances this with what his conscience tells him about Leo's sentence. However, he stresses submission to authority despite the obvious Miscarriage of Justice, and stresses the importance of suffering in the establishment of character. He also mentions he is torn between the idea that prison strips a man and his family of their livelihood and the unconscionable violence of someone being whipped. Priests are firm supporters of the social status quo, but in general they have a commitment to their flock's well-being and religion itself is neither corrupt nor militant.
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  • Powder Keg Crowd - the Empire is becoming this - the tension has been ramping up for a while, but the riots at Rydzowskich and other similar locations in other cities brought the possibility of mob rule and reaction into stark reality.
  • La Résistance - Algis was part of this during the war - and confounds anyone who thinks the Lenks were the oppressed rather than the oppressors.

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