Help Find This Book

Writtenwyrdd is looking for the title of this book:

There was this fantasy of manners I read in the mid- to late-90s, and I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, it has gotten lost in purge before I moved out to Maine from San Francisco.  And I foolishly disappeared this tome and now want to reread it.  Only I can’t recall the title or author – which is so unlike me.

Here’s what I recall of the plot.  Maybe you guys can come up with something for me!

POV is primarily the son of a noble family.  In memory, the book seems to revolve around the protagonist’s searching for answers about his dead mother.  It was very courtly and very much a fantasy of manners before the term was coined.  Most of the early action takes place in this palace with a deep, dark underground area filled with at least one altar or columnar thingie that is ritually significant.  The man’s got some family troubles, and many of them stem from the death of his mother some while back.  As I recall, the man spends a great deal of time trying to solve a problem that involves some mystical duties only his mother really understood (or which she’d kept secret).  It all revolves around what’s in that oubliette/basement down the long flight of stairs, he discovers after a lengthy process of hunting down some misplaced family member or associate (a woman?) and then some other information.  I seem to recall a box of some kind he acquires.  And at the climax he deals with a problem related to the oubliette/basement and that altar/column, resulting in the resurrection/retrieval of his mother.  (She is apparently not dead).

And the story reminds me of the Amber stories by Zelazny because this family has special abilities.  The resemblance to the Amber series, from what I can recall, is that the family has some sort of inter-world travel ability, some sort of magic.  The And that’s all I can really remember about it, except it was a slow and delicious read, not one to read in gulps.  The cover probably had a guy in doublet and hose on the cover.

Anyone recognize this by my horrid description?

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2 comments on “Help Find This Book

  1. I have not read it, but the instant someone says “fantasy of manners” and I think of the Gormenghast books by Mervyn Peake.

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