The year is 2293. The emperor of the Pan-Polarian Empire is dead. General Peter Black is unwillingly hailed as a potential contender to the throne.
His story, narrated by his daughter through his present actions and flashbacks, is that of the last honourable man in a world ruled by an Emperor worse than Nero. As the Empire declines due to the indulgences of its ruler and various viral and metalic plagues, we see how history repeats itself.
The dreary potential future is lightened for the readers by such things as the religion of El Bis, the Supreme Singer of Songs and the use of recent literary characters as 'classics'.
Throughout the book General Black's enemies come to learn that his naivete when it comes to politics does not equal incompetence when it comes to battle - political or otherwise.
- an obviously well developed though untold 'history' that brings our world to this impass
- the metal plagues that slowly wipe out electronics was unique and used to advantage
- clever use of 'classics'
- alternating chapters allow the reader to learn the past as necessary to understand present events
- since the story is narrated there is a distance between the reader and the story
- the title is a bit misleading as the characters are only on Mars for about 10 pages (in real time only a few months)