She falls in love with him at last; as they are about to embrace, however, she is returned to her own time. Jherek, heartbroken, decides to rescue her, and travels to 19th-century London, using the time machine from Moorcock's Behold the Man. Jherek is inexperienced to the point of naivete about the Victorian Era, despite his interest in it, and a temporally local thief, Snoozer Vine, tricks him into becoming an accomplice to Snoozer's latest scam. Not surprisingly, Jherek proves to be a poor criminal, and is quickly arrested, jailed and sent to trial. To his surprise, the judge appears to be none other than his friend, Lord Jagged, but claims to be one Jagger.
Jherek is sentenced to death, as the case against him is unequivocal, but he cannot understand why all the people around him are so upset; inhabitants of the End of Time are immortal, and for them death is merely transitory. Jherek is hanged, only to wake up among his friends at the End of Time, who tell him that to them, he has only been gone for a second.
Reunited at the end of Time, Jherek and the other inhabitants of the End of Time have returned to their preferred amusements of parties and games. Hunted by the Lat, Jherek stumbles into a subterranean school built centuries ago to protect the last children of that era from the tyrant director Pecking Pa the Eighth a reference to Sam Peckinpah. The time in the school is constantly recycled by a robot nanny so old she has started to break down, and as a result is recycling the same week repeatedly.
The teacher-robot mistakes Jherek for one of her children as she has forgotten that there is anything outside her school, and keeps him. When she realises her mistake, she agrees to send him back to ; her ability to recycle time means that she can function as a time machine. On the way, Jherek meets H. Wells and explains that he is a time traveller, but is met only with Wells's ironic disbelief.
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Jherek is finally reunited with Mrs Underwood but also forced to confront her husband Mr Underwood. Underwood is so suspicious of their story that a reluctant Mrs Underwood runs away with Jherek. Chased by the police, the two are rescued by a journalist, Mr Jackson who, like Judge Jagger, bears a strong resemblance to Lord Jagged. The police catch up with the fleeing couple, but are interrupted in their attempted arrest by the appearance of the Lat, the Iron Orchid and a number of other residents of the End of Time.
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Chaos ensues as the police and the Lat start fighting, and the fabric of time itself begins disintegrating. The time travellers start vanishing, and Jackson, who finally reveals himself to be Lord Jagged also Judge Jagger , takes Jherek and Mrs Underwood to a time machine that will take them to the End of Time. The machine appears to malfunction; instead of delivering them to the End of Time, it maroons them in what appears to be the Lower Devonian period.
The title of this volume comes from the poem "Dregs" by Ernest Dowson.
They explain the notion of the multiverse as the combination of all simultaneously existing realities before sending Jherek and Amelia back to the End of Time. There, Jherek finds all his friends who had vanished from alive and well, except for Lord Jagged who has yet to return. Amelia is now more tolerant towards the people of the End of Time, though still occasionally revolted by their lack of morals.
She and Jherek resume the life they led in An Alien Heat , which is interrupted by the sudden arrival of a shell shocked, crazed Mr Underwood, Inspector Springer and a dozen policemen, and the Lat. Jherek, the Duke of Queens, the policemen, Amelia and Mr Underwood seek refuge from the Lat in one of the Lost Cities, which hold the energy used by the people of the End of Time to alter matter through their rings, and are surprised to find it crumbling, and the sun gone. They are joined by Yusharisp and the end-of-time resident Lord Mongrove, a manic-depressive giant who explains that the apocalypse has begun, and that they are the sole survivors.
The group realises with horror that their energy rings are no longer working.
In light of their impending doom, Amelia finally admits that her love for Jherek is more important to her than morals or convention. The Iron Orchid and Lord Jagged, by now assumed to be dead, appear. Lord Jagged reveals himself to be Jherek's father, and a time traveller from the 21st century. After learning of the Earth's impending destruction, he sought to preserve humanity by sending a "new Adam and Eve " to the beginning of time, thus creating a loop that would prevent humanity from spending thousands of years relearning the basics of civilisation.
For genetic reasons, he chose Jherek and Amelia and orchestrated their meeting.
Amelia and Jherek's marooning in the Devonian was not part of the plan; they did not, in fact, travel back in time, but too far into the future, past the end of the world in which they were currently residing. Upon realising this, Jagged understood that time is circular , not linear as was previously assumed, and devised a new plan. While his friends are devastated, he shows unwavering optimism and surprises everyone by creating a new sun with his energy ring.
He proceeds to explain that energy can be drawn from any existing reality within the multiverse; this, combined with the technology that "recycled" time in the underground school, can be used to sustain the Earth forever. Now reassured that the Earth is safe in a time loop and provided with a new source of energy, the End of Timers resurrect their friends who died in the aborted apocalypse, and rebuild their world. Amelia, now comfortable at the End of Time, becomes popular. During a visit to Mr Underwood in the Lost City, she is faced with his conviction that she is damned when she tells him of her belief that God is dead.
While she struggles with her conscience and her newfound atheism , her husband travels back to the 19th century and she decides to marry Jherek. When Lord Jagged offers to send both her and Jherek into the future, out of the time loop and after the end of the world to start a new civilisation, they accept. After a short interlude, Werther discovers, by the use of a parachute that closely resembles a Hot air balloon , a child Catherine Lily Marguerite Natasha Dolores Beatrice Machineshop-Seven Flambeau Gratitude who is the fourteen-year-old daughter of two time travellers, and deigns to take on the role of her now deceased parents.
Following a masquerade with the theme of Childhood , Werther is passionately overcome and engages in sexual intercourse with Catherine. After the event, disgusted by what he perceives to be the enormity of his acts, he is even more disgusted in Catherine for having enjoyed what she describes as le petit mal. The story climaxes with Werther's suicide by jumping from his tower unaided by his parachute and his subsequent resurrection. It is then revealed that Catherine is really Mistress Christia in disguise, the series of events being an attempt to reconcile after her having destroyed his rainbow.
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White Stars : after discovering that he had inadvertently destroyed one of Lord Shark the Unknown's experiments with lichen, the Duke of Queens offers to duel with him to rid himself of his guilt. The ending originally involved a scene where the main character, Mavis Ming, was whipped into submission by Bloom. This was later rewritten by the author. Jherek is almost unique among the natives of The End of Time, in that he was born, rather than created.
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Only Werther De Goethe is mentioned as also having been born, implying that this trait is something of a rarity in this time period. Jherek's childhood and adolescence subsequently provided a great deal of novelty and interest for the Iron Orchid and her clique, and left Jherek with a notable childlike freshness and creativity, compared to the majority of his contemporaries.
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This makes him something of a trend-setter among his peers. In particular, his fascination with the past has made him a recognised expert in the field — the nearest thing The End of Time has to a historian. He is particularly interested in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A million or more years of lost records and misinformation have taken their toll, however, and Jherek's attempts to recreate elements of the era are often comically inaccurate. Jherek's entire existence is later revealed to be part of a complicated scheme of Lord Jagged's to survive the End of Time by selectively breeding a race of humans whose DNA renders them immune to the tendency for time to heal itself by rejecting time travellers who journey to the past, and flinging them forward to their point of origin, or beyond.
This tendency is called the "Morphail Effect" and it is named after Dr. Brannart Morphail, a character in the novel.
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Jherek may be an incarnation of Moorcock's recurring character Jerry Cornelius. A denizen of 19th century Bromley , she arrives at a party hosted by the Duke of Queens under mysterious circumstances after she is kidnapped from her own age. She is married to the stuffy Mr. Underwood, who becomes a comic presence in the second and third books. She is a lovely young woman and, although her Victorian upbringing has made a strict moralist of her, she gradually begins to thaw under Jherek's influence.
In her childhood, she travelled with her father, a missionary, into exotic locations: these experiences planted the seeds of tolerance. At first, her sense of duty makes her tolerate Jherek, despite his vexing romantic blandishments; she tells herself that, as a good Christian, she must indoctrinate him into the mysteries of Virtue.
Later, her personality begins to blossom, and she realises she loves Jherek. The last woman to give birth on Earth, the Iron Orchid is Jherek's mother.