The civil war among the alien atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri, his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power. But factions that remain loyal ot the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over. Since the rebellion, Bren Cameron's apartment in the capital has been occupied by an old noble family from the Southern district - the same district from which the coup was initiated. This family now claims loyalty to Tabini, but the aiji is dubious, and dealing with these possible rebel infiltrators will require finesse on Tabini's part. To avoid additional conflict, Bren has decided to absent himself from the Bujavid and visit Najida, his country estate on the west coast, for the month before the legislature resumes its session. It has been more than two years since Bren was last at his idyllic country retreat, and he relishes the thought of the peace and tranquility his lovely coastal home affords.
Tabini-aiji has once again taken over the job of training his young son in the traditional ways of the atevi, and has Cajeiri under strict supervision. But after two years in space, surrounded by human children, with only his great-grandmother, the aiji-dowager Ilisidi, as guardian and teacher, Cajeiri bristles in this highly controlled and boring environment. He misses his human associates in space, he misses the company of his wily great-grandmother, who allowed him more liberty than his parents do, but most of all, he misses his close association with nand' Bren.
Desperate for freedom and adventure, disregarding the obvious danger, Cajeiri escapes the tightly guarded Bujavid with his young bodyguards and sets out secretly to join Bren on the coast.
Determined to ensure his son's safety, Tabini recalls Ilisidi from her home in the East, asking her to find Cajeiri and secure him at Bren's estate.
But it has been a long time since Bren has been to Najida, and the war has shifted allegiances in many quarters. A district that once was considered a safe haven might now be a trap. And with Bren, Cajeiri, and Ilisidi all under one roof and separated from their allies, that trap is now baited.
C. J. Cherryh (born 1942) is the pen name of Carolyn Janice Cherry, a multiple-award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer. She currently resides in Spokane County, Washington.
Cherryh is pronounced ”Cherry”. The author appended a silent ”h” to her real name because her first editor felt that ”Cherry” sounded too much like a romance writer.
The asteroid 77185 Cherryh has been named in her honour.