An early clockpunk work -- intrigue and drama in a world where the tyrannical Goblins, the Maglore, have been overthrown, but the hundred human realms are dependent on the hundred surviving Goblin "Jewels" -- in actuality, magical pieces of clockwork that do such things as maintain mines or keep the shores safe.
It opens with two of the allegedly extinct Maglore going to another Goblin -- one of the inferior breeds that are known to have survived -- to find a Maglore child.
A few years later, Wilrowan Blackheart -- Will -- is discouraged from attending court after a duel. His wife Lilli -- they had both been tricked into agreeing to the marriage by her ambitious father -- was off and about on secret studies of magic, as part of a secret society, and so much to his surprise, she's not at home.
Meanwhile, in another kingdom, King Jarred's cousin Lucius is about to go on a journey to work on his history, which doubts much of what is told. For instance, whether the Maglore actually existed-- they are an awfully convenient explanation for a lot of things. But when he leaves -- among others, to visit a land ruled from a madhouse, because the king is insane and does not have a regent -- the Maglore child, now grown, carries out a twisted Cinderella to bewitch Jarred. And all about the Jewels are stolen, trailing disaster in their wake as they move about the land, and worse when they come into proximity.
All of which weave together into a tale including a young woman who comes from a palace on the Moon (or so a mad king says), mirrors, drinking poison, the dangers of salt to Goblins, easing the servants out of Jarred's household, a great deal of gossip, how Will's grandmother survived the persecution of her family without ever coming to trial, ravens, the sect known as the Levelers and what they think is a miraculous child, and much more.