The City is bustling in the run up to the annual Swan Ball at Tremontaine House. Saabim and Chuleb can’t understand why the Balam have been invited; is Diane trying to soften them after failing to keep her promises? Kaab takes a break from her swordscraft to find out, and beleaguered Rafe finds he really is the only person in the City who doesn’t want to talk about the Ball…

Tensions are high at the University: the Governors are on the verge of changing the rules and both Rafe and Micah are convinced their Doctors have their facts wrong. Diane could tell them that public confrontation is no way to endear yourself to influential men who control your future, but with Rafe eyeing up her husband, she won’t be doing anything of the sort…

It’s an earlier time in Riverside. Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine, is trying to maintain her husband’s wealth and estates. Young Micah makes friends across a gaming table at the University with her mathematical prowess. And disgraced trader’s daughter Ixkaab Balam arrives from overseas, keen to practice her swordcraft. I’m finally turning my attention to Tremontaine, Ellen Kushner’s adventure in world-sharing and serial publishing.

Book cover: The Fall of the Kings - Ellen Kushner & Delia ShermanTheron Campion, heir to Tremontaine, takes after his father the Mad Duke: smart and scandalous. Dallying at the University, he meets intense young historian Doctor Basil St Cloud and the pair begin a passionate relationship. But Theron has royal blood, and the North cries out the return of Kings and wizards. Will Basil’s research become the catalyst for a royal revolution?

Book cover: The Fall of the Kings - Ellen Kushner & Delia ShermanA new generation dominates Riverside and the Hill. But old allegiances are coming to the fore. Kings and wizards have long been studied at the University, but as Northerners cry out for the return of the King, Basil St Cloud and his students may find their studies more political than historical. And the Hill has a history of solving political differences with swords…