It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture. It begins in the realm of the Real. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.