With the aid of mysterious Special Ambassadors, humans have left the Earth behind and now dwell in domed cities and islands between the stars. Journeys between islands are conducted on "night boats", lifespans are greatly extended, and livestock has been replaced by Clock Punk creatures that grow food in their "stomachs".
But despite all this, people are still people. Queen Elizabeth I is still mercurial and unforgiving, politicians will still do anything to get ahead, and religious and national tensions are as strong as ever. War between Englandia and Spain is on the horizon.
Into this chaos drops a strange vessel, smashing through the domed ceiling of a disaffected noble banished from court for speaking his mind. Out of the flaming ship tumbles a visitor from another world. His name is Brindle, and he's about to change everything...
Tropes present in this work:
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Spanish Ambassador is an outright sadist, and the English court is little better.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Evil! Brindle works fast.
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: The "Beatification" - or so the humans assume. Evil! Brindle views it as a pleasure garden the Ambassadors set up for their amusement, not out of goodwill.
- Do Androids Dream?: It's ambiguous just how sapient the more advanced Mechanicals are.
- Fantastic Drug: The eponymous Deathscent is one for Brindle's species. One good whiff can turn a penitent, guilt-wracked man into a bloodthirsty maniac.
- Full-Boar Action: The aptly-named Old Scratch.
- Insufficiently Advanced Alien: The human species is living in a "paradise" they know hardly anything about. Brindle makes sure to rub this in after he transforms, noting that slaughter at his peoples' hands will just be speeding up the inevitable.
- Punny Name: Wutton Old Place.
- Robot Buddy: Lantern is the Clock Punk equivalent.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: In Brindle's case, a third nostril in the middle of his forehead. He perceives the world mainly by smell (to the point that he lives on scents) and speaks a musical Starfish Language without his translator device.
- Sequel Hook: The Spanish ambassador finds Brindle's beacon. As it's been more than ten years, it's unlikely this will be followed up on.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Brindle, and apparently his entire species. They're harmless in their natural state, but find the scent released at the moment of death so intoxicating it turns them into insane murderers.
- The Tragic Rose: Brindle is absolutely staggered when he finds his first rose, calling it the kind of scent his people would build temples to. It turns out to be the only thing capable of overpowering the Deathscent's influence, leading to Brindle's dying redemption.