There can be no better guide to the character of the King- Emperor than his own words: ‘You must serve us, in turn, with great loyalty, knowing that you share a part in the destiny of the greatest race ever to emerge on this planet. It is our right to rule the earth, by virtue of our omniscient intellect and omnipotent might and soon we shall claim this right in full.’ For thousands of years, this immortal creature has ruled the mightiest empire on Earth and has never suffered defeat or humiliation. To the people of Granbretan and to all their conquered races, the Immortal Emperor is god. Confined within the life-sustaining Throne Globe, Huon is isolated from the humanity he left behind. He has not known touch or taste or smell in centuries and his body has atrophied. All that remains of him is his cunning intellect and his overwhelming hatred of life. He is the embodiment of the Madness of Granbretan – he is dulled to all sensation so he inflicts great agony upon all the world in a desperate attempt to find something that can still excite him. He would burn the world if he thought it would please him. Conquering the universe is his only amusement.

The King-Emperor knows that he has bred a race of monsters and amoral conquerors who would turn on himif they could. He has cultivated his divine aura and indeed he has more than half-convinced himself that he truly is a god. His fathomless cunning and malicious wit has also enabled him to play the other Lords of Granbretan off against each other, favouring one and then another, ensuring that all the court squabbles and plots to win his favour, instead of plotting against him. For all his intellect and age, Huon has no sorcery to speak of and the Throne Globe is virtually defenceless in itself – although obviously, having thousands of elite Mantis guards who are willing to die in one’s service is a fine deterrent.

Hawkmoon is captured by the evil forces of Granbretan (implied as an evil version of Great Britain where the noble classes hide behind metal masks of various totem animals) who implant a sinister jewel in his skull; he is liberated by the friendly rulers of Kamarg (implied as a future version of the southern French region of Camargue) charged with finding and implementing the will of the Runestaff, a magical item which preserves the Equilibrium. During his adventures, he has to collect two more magical items, the Red Amulet held by a mad god and the Sword of the Dawn, winning many battles in which he is hopelessly outnumbered, but helped by loyal companions, by mysterious allies who arrive in the nick of time, and by dissension in the ranks of his foes.

Several of the Gods of Granbretan were based upon 20th Century British Prime Ministers, e.g. Chirshil (Winston Churchill), the Howling God; Aral Vilsn (Harold Wilson), the Roaring God.