With a truce declared between the major powers, war hero Captain James Robert Neihart returns to the Alliance station of Pell to reclaim one of the Merchanters' own. During the Company Wars, Finity's End had to leave a pregnant crew member on Pell and was unable to retrieve her orphaned son. The Neiharts want their lost cousin back out of love, but also because the war has cost Finity's End a generation. No babies have been born, while half the crew – half the family – are dead, making the prodigal youth even more precious.
But Fletcher Neihart has left Pell for the planet Downbelow where, after a childhood spent in uncaring foster homes, he's found happiness working with the hisa – Downbelow's mystic, peaceful natives. He even has a beautiful girlfriend. The last thing he wants is to be dragged into space. He has no choice.
Fletcher is reunited with a home he's never seen. From having no family, he's now surrounded by kinfolk – all battle-scarred strangers more alien than the non-human hisa. Like Jeremy, the hero-worshipping twelve-year-old, JR, groomed to be a captain and growing into leadership, Madelaine, ship's attorney, and Fletcher's great-grandmother.
And the Neiharts must deal with a resentful hostage who bears their name and features, but knows nothing of their history, traditions or lives.
Meanwhile, Finity's End flies toward conflict and danger. For Captain Neihart is forging a treaty among the worlds, stations and Merchanters; and opponents will try ambush, sabotage, and murder to stop him. By journey's end the hope for peace will depend on whether JR, Jeremy and the crew can uphold Merchanter honor; and whether Fletcher, guided by a gift from the hisa, can learn to trust... and find his true place in the universe.
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.