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The palace was several hundred years old, a sort of haphazard medieval city containing church buildings, stables, army barracks - and the offices and homes of the ministers of the Revolutionary Government, in a Communist satellite country somewhere in Europe. The palace rose starkly and threateningly out of the marshes, its three great gilt domes reminding observers of the glittering monarchies that once resided there. But all was changed, all was forbidding.
"We stand too high to be human, Katarin", says the President of the country to his tempestuous, unloving wife. The revolution, which made him absolute ruler, has also taken him away from Katarin, dehumanizing him and his power-ridden ministers. Katarin, in defiance of the restrictions that bind her life, takes a lover, finding herself liberated even as she senses that the consequences are sure to be disastrous.