Iain M. Banks' previous science fiction novel, EXCESSION, was a SUNDAY TIMES hardback and paperback bestseller, and was published to enormous popular ... Show synopsis Iain M. Banks' previous science fiction novel, EXCESSION, was a SUNDAY TIMES hardback and paperback bestseller, and was published to enormous popular and critical acclaim. Without doubt one of the most daring, imaginative and compelling writers of his generation, his new science fiction novel will be a major event in the 1998 publishing calendar. In the winter palace, the King's new physician has more enemies than she at first realises. But then she also has more remedies to hand than those who wish her ill can know about. In another palace across the mountains, in the service of the regicidal Protector General, the chief bodyguard too has his enemies. He also has at least one person he cares for deeply and who cares for him, though neither can risk saying so. Spiralling round a central core of secrecy, deceit, love and betrayal, two stories - linked more closely than even those involved can know - climb to a devastating climax.