A slave waits to be crucified ; a desperate young girl with strange abilities stalks through the streets of London ; a gang of fugitives hides out in the Pyrenees while on giant screens in every City, the world watches the funeral of the Imperial family's most glamorous couple. Magnetic railways span the globe and slaves are constructing a giant bridge over the Persian Gulf. A single state holds absolute sway, but as tensions with a rival Empire escalate, the first rumblings of a world conflict are beginning to be felt. Meanwhile, only an overworked official doubts that the deaths of the Emperor's war-hero brother and his beautiful, charismatic wife were accidental. The sixteen-year-old heir to the throne is about to learn a secret that threatens the greatest power on earth - and his own life.