The civil war among the alien atevi is over. Tabini-aiji, dynamic ruler of the Western Association, has reclaimed his former power, and once again resides in the capital. But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.
Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat allied with Tabini, has graciously chosen to visit Najida, his country estate on the west coast. He feels that the political tensions in the capital might ease if he is not present, and after two years in space and his return to a planet still imperiled by revolution, he relishes the peace and tranquility his lovely coastal home affords.
But peace and tranquility are not in the cards for Bren.
Desperate for freedom and adventure, disregarding the obvious danger, Cajeiri, Tabini's young son, escapes the tightly guarded capital with his bodyguards and arrives to surprise Bren in the country. But he is not the only surprise guest, for Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, Tabini's wily and powerful grandmother, has been dispatched to secure her great-grandson's safety.
However, Najida, formerly a safe haven, is no longer the sanctuary it once was. For a neighbour's estate - the ancestral home of Lord Geigi, a close associate of Bren's - has been left without strong leadership. Lord Geigi now resides on and runs the atevi space station, and in his absence, rebel clans have infiltrated his home. When these rebels attack Bren, Cajeiri, and the dowager, they have no choice but to recall Geigi from space.
With Lord Geigi, Ilisidi, Bren, and Cajeiri all under one roof, they pose an irresistable target for the enemy. And Bren's pastoral retreat, now swarming with bodyguards, becomes a locked-down and armed fortress. These four individuals - three of the most powerful politicians on the planet, and the heir to the aiji - are not without their own resources. But can they overcome their adversaries and end this guerilla war that is the last vestige of revolution?
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.