In the city-state of Hokesh, time plays tricks; the present is unreliable, the future impossible to intimate. A derelict street child, Joey Quine, finds himself subject to horrifying visions and fugues. His only friend in this, the only one to whom he can turn for help, is a mysterious stranger who calls herself Ace. And in an unknowable future the Doctor is busily inciting a state of bloody unrest, on the basis that one must be cruel to be kind - simultaneously, for preference. The Glorious Ruler of the city, Magnus Solaris, is worried: his memory is failing him; his influence deserting him; his city is falling apart. What is happening to him truly? Only the Doctor knows - and he's not telling. There is worse to come. As both world and time crumble, Magnus Solaris and Joey Quine will unearth secrets the like of which nobody in Hokesh could have ever possibly suspected.