'Things like crowns had a troublesome effect on clever folks; it was best to leave all the reigning to the kind of people whose eyebrows met in the middle.' Three witches gathered on a lonely heath. A king cruelly murdered, his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. A child heir and the crown of the kingdom, both missing . . . The omens are not auspicious for the new incumbent, for whom ascending this tainted throne is a more complicated affair than you might imagine, particularly when the blood on your hands just won't wash off and you're facing a future with knives in it . . .