Tandemstar is a binary star system with one habitable planet in orbit around both stars. The planet’s name is Dib (or Dibble, in some cultures). Dib is slightly smaller than Earth, spins more rapidly, but has a longer orbit around the twin stars. The planet’s inhabitants—Dibblings—refer to the suns either as the Dancers, or by the names Dyhene and Hadrine. Dib also has a small moon uncreatively called Moon.
There are five continents on Dib, plus two large islands and many dozen smaller ones, with 155 countries. Additionally, there’s a privately-owned space station called Lys is in geosynchronous orbit on the dark side of the planet, a multinational moon base, and six floating cities. Dibblings get around.
The primary religion on the planet is called the House, which is a lot more science-based in nature than one might expect from a religion. (It’s something like a cross between the Catholic church, MIT, and a private research company.) There are House temples all over the planet, many extremely old. The House worships five deities named Honus, Javilon, Ho, Nita and Pal.
The source of evil in the religion is a being called the Outcast. The Outcast is generally considered to be metaphorical, while large portions of Dib believe there is/was a literal Honus, Javilon, Ho, Nita and Pal.
The Outcast Cycle is a multiple book story arc that takes readers across—and above—the planet. Nestled in the individual stories is the gradual discovery that the House has a big secret…and the Outcast may be more literal than anyone realized.
In life, Professor Orno Linus was a world-class scholar: an astrophysicist, a dead-language linguist, and an expert in (and apparent true believer of) the religious concept of the Cull, i.e., the end of the world. Widely respected, nothing about Linus’s expertise suggests somebody might want him dead.
And yet, somebody killed him.
Detective Makk Stidgeon already knows he’s unlucky. He’s a cholem: an outcast. A bad-luck charm. He was born this way, and has the brand on his wrist to prove it.
But in terms of bad luck, the gods have really gone overboard by sticking him with the Linus case.
Between a House leadership that seems more interested in retrieving an artifact they believe Linus stole, the demands of the dead man’s murderous brother Calcut, a new partner who seems to know more than she’s telling, and an omnipresent news media constantly looking for an angle on the biggest story of the year, Makk barely has time to just follow the clues.
And that’s before an impossible video surfaces that purports to reveal the killer’s identity. What makes it impossible? The person in the video couldn’t have possibly done it.
To get to the bottom of the Orno’s murder, Makk will have to navigate between the House and the Linus family, find the source of the video, and figure out what’s missing from the House vault. Even if he can pull all that off, he may discover he’s not at the end of a mystery at all, but at the beginning of a much larger one.
Welcome to The Middle Kingdom!
In the nine Middle Kingdoms it is believed that the royal families are the direct decedents of the gods of Dib: Honus, Javilon, Ho Nita, and Pal. The gifts of the gods are not passed to every member of the royal families, however, and none of these “unblessed” children can ever become king or queen and, due to the displeasure of the gods, they cannot have children of their own.
Unlike the rest of the planet, the middle kingdoms have adhered more closely to the early teachings of the House in both their beliefs and their feudal way of life. In fact, the Septal Houses’ High Hats throughout the rest of Dib have always formally denounced the beliefs and practices of the Houses in the Middle Kingdom.
Back in Velon, after being tasked with the infamous Linus murder case and House vault robbery, Detective Makk Stidgeon is back, and this time he has county attorney Pillick Quibb asking him questions.
Meanwhile in Totus, Battine Alconnot, an unblessed descendent of Ho, Lady Delphina, and her sister Queen Porra find themselves tied up in the mystery....