The Dungeon series continues to expand and proliferate; I'm more and more coming to believe that I should be putting all of these books onto a single shelf and then reading them all in "order." (Internal chronology is almost certainly not order of creation, though, and it's difficult to determine the latter with an ocean and a language separating us from those original publications.)
This volume continues the story of young Hyacinthe, who eventually became the Dungeon's creator and Keeper. As is becoming typical, each sub-series sees a young and (more or less) idealistic hero having more and more adventures, and facing down more of life, until he becomes the "evil" -- or perhaps monstrous is the better word -- background figure of the series set later in time. As Herbert became the Great Khan, so we see that the Keeper was once young Hyacinthe.
Many of the other books were suitable for younger readers -- not for the youngest, but generally good for tweens and particularly teens -- but this volume is darker and more obviously sexual. (To quote one blunt conversation -- "He told you he loves me?" "I've subtly deduced it." "On the basis of what observation?" "He pays for whores whom he dresses in thigh boots. And when he makes love to them and shouts 'Alexandra! Alexandra!'") It's also, as I hinted above, becoming more and more clear that Sfar and Trondheim are weaving a very large tapestry, and are willing to bounce back and forth in their timeline to place each thread in its proper place.
The Dungeon series looks like a satire of swords & sorcery, and may have begun that way, but it's turned into a deeper and more resonant work than that; Dungeon is about, at its core, the eternal battles between individual and society, between youthful vigor and mature wisdom, between hope and experience. The adventure has always been tinged with more darkness than a similar American series would have allowed, but it's broadened into the neighborhood of tragedy now -- or, if not tragedy in particular, than the sadness inherent in the inevitable decay and end of everything.