It is now two years after One For Sorrow and John the Eunuch, Lord Chamberlain to the Emperor Justinian, is faced with a new and byzantine problem: why are Constantinople's holy stylites bursting into flames as they stand atop their pillars? His investigations are hampered by a pagan philosophy tutor from his youth and a heretical Christian prophet whose ultimatums threaten to topple the Empire. Then murder strikes close to home and John has only days to find a solution before he, his friends, his Emperor, and the city itself are destroyed. The sumptuous halls of the Great Palace and the riot-torn streets are filled with the same danger and deception. A colorful cast of characters that includes a runaway wife, servants and soldiers, madams and mendicants, a venomous court page and a wealthy landowner or two -- not to mention John's bete noire, the Empress Theodora -- adds texture to this rich, exotic tale of sixth century life and mysterious death.