The unofficial history of Dr. Zeus Incorporated resumes with Book 7, wherein the unfortunate Alec Checkerfield, seventh earl of Finsbury, sets off on an Orphic quest to rescue the Botanist Mendoza from Options Research.

But Options Research is no ordinary prison. Under the circumstances, it's just as well that Alec is no ordinary man. For one thing, he's accompanied on his quest by Captain Morgan, the piratical AI who has looked after him most of his life. And along for the ride are two quite palpable and determined specters: Nicholas Harpole and Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, apparently two earlier versions of Alec himself. Are they his brothers? Ghosts? Hallucinations? About the only issue on which they agree with Alec, and each other, is the necessity of rescuing Mendoza.

Meanwhile, under Mount Tamalpais...

The Facilitator Joseph is leading a somewhat sketchy existence as a Rogue Cyborg, holed up in a vast underground chamber full of comatose immortals. He waits for the revival of his mentor, the Enforcer Budu. He plunders the Company database for secrets that may prove useful in the fateful year 2355, when it will become possible to break into open rebellion. But when Budu does begin to issue orders, Joseph finds himself forced to face some unpleasant truths. And, against his will, he sets out once again on a quest he abandoned years before... the search for his lost daughter, Mendoza.

Meanwhile, in the most secret of secret locations...

A perfectly normal mortal named David Reed wakes up, goes to the office, gossips with his fellow department members, has lunch, works some more, and then goes home to dinner in his flat with its view of the Thames.

Or does he? Perhaps perfectly normal isn't quite the right description for David Reed.

Quests collide, battles are fought, tempers flare. Love blossoms once again. Monsters are vanquished. A baby shower is planned. A funeral is attended. A wedding supper is shared. There are pirates, and treasure hunts, and a grizzly bear. An amusement arcade catches fire. William Shakespeare guest stars (again). So does another famous writer. All is lost. All is won. We're almost there...

Influences for this book included the Pelican Inn at Muir Beach, the Ragged Point Inn at Big Sur, and the Green Man Inn (which spans space and time) and its dauntless proprietress. Thanks are also in order to the Chieftains, to Oberon and Titania, and the Marine Archaeology Department at Texas A&M University.

And yet another bouquet to the late Ralph Vaughan Williams, for writing perfect theme music for Nicholas Harpole (Saraband of the Sons of God).

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