The secret log of a murdered lighthouse keeper falls into the hands of the immensely wealthy Gilbert Frobisher, who discovers encoded within it a stunning and dangerous mystery.
Against all odds Langdon St. Ives and his companions set sail in the dark of night for the West Indies aboard Gilbert Frobisher’s steam yacht, pursued by murderous pirates and bound for an uncharted volcanic island on the verge of eruption. There they undertake the perilous search for a hidden treasure protected by an unspeakable pagan god, and in the process unleash a power that will ultimately threaten the devastation of London.
Blaylock's usual steampunk hero, Langdon St. Ives (last seen in The Aylesford Skull), plays only a minor role in a Caribbean expedition led by Gilbert Frobisher to retrieve a fortune's worth of ambergris. Blaylock captures the Victorian era with careening cabs, gas-lit streets, and gangs who are trying to keep Frobisher's group from its goal. Frobisher's rivals, led by Billy Stoddard, give chase across the Atlantic in their attempts to gain the prize. Frobisher's concise and episodic adventures are divided into his flight from London, the adventure in the Caribbean, and his semi-triumphant return. St. Ives and his companions participate in a languid mix of adventure and Victorian narrative that never quite achieves a sense of urgency, even during the chase scenes. The story and characters, while both enjoyable, often take a backseat to the stylized prose.