There is no empire any more, save leagues of empty broken lands along the River Saltus and its vassal streams, and the farmlands of the Rose Downs stretching east. Those remnants the Assemblage governs in its own right, as executor for the powers of the vacant throne. But even after Arnulf, the Imperator was executive of the City Imperishable only by proxy for the vacant office of Lord Mayor. The Assemblage governs the city merely as a courtesy of custom, not by statute.
Jay herds words naturally better than most people will learn to with years of working their asses off to get it right. This is a really intriguing book, a fantastic city, a wacked out an interesting culture. It's beautifully written, and the characters are defined and interesting. Also, he makes me reach for my dictionary on a regular basis, which doesn't happen that much.
...and I couldn't finish the damned thing. For the same reason I can't read China Miéville's stuff, or almost any horror. Because Delany is exactly as far as I can get into the grotesque and have any interest in reading on. It's not thrilling or enlightening for me; it's just triggery.
That said, I don't want to sell Jay short; I think what I read of it was more strongly plotted than what I read of The Scar or Iron Council, and it has a similar weight and texture to it.
In short, if you like this sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing you'll like. I'll be under the couch with a stiff drink.