|Every Inch a King|
|Cover artist||Bob Eggleton|
The novel tells the story of Otto of Schlepsig, an acrobat who bears a strong resemblence to Prince Halim Eddin, an Hassocki nobleman who has been invited to take up the crown of Shqiperi. Otto and his friend Max of Witte leave the circus of Dooger and Cark's Traveling Emporium of Marvels to travel to Shqiperi with the plans of presenting Otto as the prince.
The novel is based on a widely discredited claim by German acrobat Otto Witte that in the summer of 1913 he and his friend, the sword swallower Max Schlepsig (notice the similarity to the protagonists' names) went to the newly-independent nation of Albania to claim the crown offered to his lookalike, Turkish prince Halim Eddine. Witte claimed that he had orgies with the harem prepared for Eddine and declared war on Montenegro, was discovered after five days, and, with the help of harem girls grateful for the sexual gratification he had given them, managed to escape Albania with a sizable portion of the nation's treasury. The veracity of Witte's story is not widely accepted, and Witte himself is believed to have been insane.
As Witte's alleged actions took place against the backdrop of the geopolitical situation in Europe on the eve of World War I, so too does this novel take place against a geopolitical backdrop based on that period, with great and small countries alike represented by fictional kingdoms with names from each nation's language and with people and governments exhibiting traits associated with their respective kingdoms' stand-in countries.
There is no map provided in the novel, but the geography described appears to be a mirror image of Europe (and western Asia) - e.g., the Kingdom of Torino, an Italy analog, is eastward across the Tiberian Sea (Adriatic Sea) from Shqiperi, the Albania analog, and other points on the globe are correspondingly flipped. However, Torino is still south of the analogs of Germany and Austria. There is also a country across the eastern ocean called Vespucciland, an analog of the United States of America.
As in many Turtledove fantasy epics, the existence of entities such as mages (who cast spells by scientific principles), dragons, and unicorns, is part of the landscape and taken for granted. Vampires and trolls, creatures which Turtledove usually confines to short stories, make brief appearances as well. Mammoths, unususal for this type of story, also appear.
The Darkness (Derlavai) hexology and The War Between the Provinces (Detina) trilogy are also set in worlds where feudal kingdoms filled with mages, dragons, and unicorns, substitute for the nations of Europe, Asia, and/or North America in conflicts analogous to World War II (Derlavai) and the American Civil War (Detina).
The three faces depicted on the "sea serpent" cover are, in descending order, Bob Eggleton, Steven H. Silver, and Harry Turtledove.