A hard SF novel of high-end data manipulation in a baroque future Venice.
In the ancient and future city of Venice, poised above the drifting tides of her canals, is House Sept-Fortune: a guild specializing in the making and breaking of data systems. Cecilie is a senior apprentice in Sept-Fortune, on the brink of her adult career. It is time for Cecilie's last test, the one that will prove her mastery of her profession and end her apprenticeship. But she has not anticipated the nature of the test that will be required of her.
Frightened and furious, Cecilie plunges into a very secret, very private, very dangerous quest to discover the nature of her world, behind its disguises... and to discover as well who runs the world. The truth is elusive but she knows it's out there, in the flow of the datastream and in the equally unfathomable eddies and currents of Venice's masked intrigues. And all interfaces are masks that cover the underlying system... but masks are hidden face.
No matter. Truth is something Cecilie desperately needs. And she will pursue it in the face of all peril and strangeness, breaking through from one set of appearances to another... and another... to find what lies beyond.