The Chronophage (The Emperor's Library: Book Five)
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Sexually assaulted, Lim finds himself in the care of Jules, one of the Masters who, with the Army, rule Gort. Jules apprentices him to the goldsmith Falke, who is constructing the chronophage, a device that slows time. When Jules is threatened, they use the chronophage to help him escape, and thus begin adventures culminating in an extravagant theatrical performance that brings disaster to Gort. More
The sixteen-year-old Lim accepts a dare and crawls through a drainage tunnel to the beach, where he for the first time observes the life of the Masters who, with the Army, rule Gort. Threatened by a guard, he is rescued by Laurel, the niece of Master Jules, and thus begins a relationship across class boundaries that changes Lim's life
Keeping a promise to Laurel, he returns to the beach only to be captured and suffer physical abuse at the hands of the guards. Filo, one of Jules's slaves, finds Lim half-dead on the street and takes him home, where he recovers from his injuries in the opulent setting of the Master's villa. Here Filo teaches him to read and Jules introduces him to maps and his collection of antiquities. But Lim cannot stay there forever, so Jules apprentices him to Falke, a mysterious goldsmith who is constructing a strange device for Jules--the chronophage--which turns out to slow the passage of time.
When Jules is threatened with execution for his political views, they use the chronophage to evade the Army and escape the city. But Lim is ultimately separated from his companions, who are captured and returned to Gort, while he finds himself in the company of Filo's sister Nan and the boy Raven, who unlike Filo, has no objection to sex.
They, too, eventually turn up in Gort City, where, through the intervention of Lim's old friend Rake, they are cast in an extravagant theatrical performance that brings about unexpected and, for some, disastrous consequences.
The novel is told in the voices of four major characters, who narrate their adventures to Rel, the central character in Book Four of The Emperor's Library. He is now very old and has come to Gort as part ambassador, part spy for the Emperor. His perspective connects the events of The Chronophage with those described earlier in the series, as more new light begins to be shed on the formation of the planet.
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