In the 7th millennium, humans have spread throughout the galaxy and govern most of the inhabited planets. Leonardo, Our Humble Hero and purple-blooded Bjornn of the planet Benitarus II, is sent as an expert appraiser to the Claiborne Art Gallery on the mostly-human planet of Far London. Leonardo's enhanced ultraviolet and infrared vision are ideal traits for assessment and authentication of artwork, and he immediately catches the attention of an aging Far London collector who, in spite of his contempt for non-humans, is intent on retaining Leonardo's services. His instructions: Search the galaxy for any piece of art bearing the image of his obsession: the mysterious Dark Lady, a beautiful and somber human female whose exact likeness, he has secretly discovered, appears in paintings and sculptures throughout history - dating all the way back to Earth's ancient Rome.
Leonardo's research reveals the link between the artists of the Dark Lady: human men who voluntarily risk their lives. If she appears to men who court death, she may be their Angel of Death ... or, as Leonardo hopes, the female of an ancient Bjornn legend - The Mother of All Things. To find her and learn the truth, he must first chase down the craziest human daredevil in the galaxy.
Prix Tour Eiffel Winner (100,000 franc prize, Best SF Novel)
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