In the Queendom of Yclau lies an underground royal prison that embraces the worst of the past and the best of the future. The Eternal Dungeon is old-fashioned in its equipment and ahead of its time in its treatment of prisoners, seeking to put their best welfare above all else. Torture is part of the process of assisting the prisoners.
The High Seeker, Layle Smith, embodies this contradictory institution: a man of deadly impulses, the head torturer binds himself strictly by the dungeon's code of conduct. His efforts to maintain this delicate balance are altered, though, by the introduction into his life of Elsdon Taylor, a vulnerable prisoner who is coming to terms with his own darkness.
A winner of the Rainbow Awards, this 2018 edition of the book bundle is 600,000 words long, containing the five volumes in the Eternal Dungeon series.
The Eternal Dungeon is an award-winning speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips. The series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of diverse alternate history series (The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, Waterman, Young Toughs, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.
"If you should grow bored, you might want to peruse this. You'll need to know the contents."
Elsdon took the book from him and looked down at the title stamped in gold upon the cover. "Yes," he said slowly, "I'm eager to read this anyway. Mr. Sobel made your Code sound interesting. I'll do my best to finish this before I have to leave here." He looked up as he stopped speaking, and his voice caught.
Standing beside him was a man with a face. His eyes were the color of summer leaves, and his coloring was a pale yellow-brown. He looked to be fairly young, in his thirties. He had high cheekbones that gave him a somewhat foreign appearance, but otherwise he had quite an ordinary look to him. Elsdon might have passed him on the street without taking notice.
His expression held a stiff formality that reminded Elsdon of a voice that had become familiar to him. It took him a moment to notice that the face was framed by black cloth that covered the sides and back of the head.
Elsdon's gaze travelled up to where the cloth that had hidden the face was flung back over the head, pinned in place by two clips. With the cloth back, it could be seen that a frame held the hood snugly against the head. The frame tucked its way around the area above the eyebrows and presumably followed the same course round to the back of the head.
Suddenly the stiffness in the mouth relaxed into what might have been the beginning of a smile, if it had not been so faint. "We do have faces, Mr. Taylor," the High Seeker said. "I know that children are commonly put to bed with scare-tales about faceless Seekers."
"I'm sorry." Elsdon swallowed. "I didn't mean to stare. I just didn't realize that Seekers were allowed to raise their hoods around prisoners."
"We're not allowed to lift our face-cloths when we're in public," Mr. Smith replied. "It's part of our uniform, which we must wear at all times; it helps to keep our relations with the other dungeon inhabitants on a professional level. However, when we're in private with friends or neighbors, we are permitted to show our faces."
Elsdon couldn't speak for a minute; he stared down at his shoes. Finally he looked up and said diffidently, "I'm glad you think of me in that way, as a neighbor. I – I'm starting to think of the Eternal Dungeon like that. As a place to live, not just a place to be imprisoned."
The High Seeker made no reply. . . .