Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and the working-class Alfred Borden, engage in a bitter and deadly feud; the effects are still being felt by their respective families a hundred years later. Working in the gaslight-and-velvet world of Victorian music halls, they prowl edgily in the background of each other’s shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity. At the heart of the row is an amazing illusion they both perform during their stage acts. The secret of the magic is simple, and the reader is in on it almost from the start, but to the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper. Both have something more to hide than the mere workings of a trick. Winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel, 1996
Welcome to Riverside, where the aristocratic and the ambitious battle for power and prestige in the city’s labyrinth of streets and ballrooms, theatres and brothels, boudoirs and salons. Into this alluring and alarming world walks a bright young woman ready to take it on and make her fortune. A well-bred country girl, Katherine knows all the rules of conventional society. Her biggest mistake is thinking they apply. Katherine’s host and uncle, Alec Campion, the capricious and decadent Mad Duke Tremontaine, is in charge here – and to him, rules are made to be broken. When he decides it would be far more amusing for his niece to learn swordplay than to follow the usual path to ballroom and husband, her world changes forever. And there’s no going back. Blade in hand, it’s up to Katherine to ?nd her own way through a maze of secrets and betrayals, nobles and scoundrels – and to gain the power, respect, and self-discovery that come to those who master . . . the privilege of the sword.