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This dark and gruesome sequel to 2007's Maledicte compellingly illustrates the endless variety of human venality. Janus Ixion, former starving commoner and now the earl of Last, is fervently dedicated to bringing an industrial revolution to Antyre, a dreary, decadent fantasy realm. This goal pits him against his devious former tutor, Prince Ivor of Itarus, who schemes to become Antyre's king. When old demonic gods return to Antyre and possess Janus's wife, Psyke, and the witless orphaned boy-king Adiran, the political becomes inextricably mixed with the supernatural. Numerous grisly murders counterpoint the simmering sexual tensions underlying Janus's quest for his lost love, Maledicte. Robins's tapestry of lies, deception and violence is deftly woven but not for the fainthearted. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.