This is the tale of a city - like any other city, to begin with - and how it was lost and won, and lost again. This is the tale of an unusual army and its extraordinary leaders: Rem, the librarian, whose tears are ink; wise Gursoon, who defines their conscience; and the silver-tongued thief, Anwar Das, who knows when to ignore that conscience. And it is the tale of the mysterious Zuleika, with her unexpected gift for violence. Without her, the city could not have been taken; because of her, it could not be held. Most of all, this is the tale of Bessa, the city of silk and steel, as much legend as truth: its fate will haunt you for as long as stories are told ...