In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Redface Pox has begun to prey on the country's men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the shogun's Inner Chamber... Tokugawa Harusada connived for years to place her son in the shogun's seat, and now she's enjoying holding all the reins of power while Ienari is relegated to breeding duties. But while his mother sees him as nothing but a mindless stud horse, Ienari has been reading The Chronicle of a Dying Day and dreaming of a better future for his country--one free of his mother's increasingly cruel control.