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A novel by Diana Wynne Jones. A powerful magical artifact from the center of the galaxy, buried on Earth, becomes active and distorts reality in its neighborhood.

Tropes include:

  • All Just a Dream: The entire first half of the book, pretty much.
  • Affably Evil: Reigner One.
  • Anachronic Order: The second mini-chapter takes place near what is chronologically the end of the book. And Vierran's introduction and visit to Earth actually takes place chronologically before the entire first half of the book. To be fair, there's an in-story reason for that.
    • To be precise, the chapters really occur in chronological order, but the Bannus is blanking out people's memories and rerunning the scenario repeatedly in order to get the outcome it desires.

 "This wood," Yam told him, "is like human memory. It does not need to take events in their correct order."

   Yam: I wish you to know that every one of my six-hundred and ninety-seven plans of action was designed to end in your death.

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