Since the dreaded Xik destroyed Earth, the corps of Beast Masters and the animal teams with which they have telepathic rapport have served as sentinels against the Xik and other threats to colony worlds throughout the galaxy.
Now a conspiracy with ties to the Thieves Guild is trying to kidnap the Beast Masters' team animals. On one world after another, they are attacking Beast Masters and targeting their animals, leaving a trail of dead or wounded Beast Masters and their animals in their wake. They haven't yet succeeded in capturing one alive... but they are still trying, and they're becoming more desperate - and bolder.
Laris is a young woman who works for a spacefaring circus, a bonded slave to its manager. An orphan with a troubled past, Laris is gifted with animals, a valuable asset to the circus and to her boss. But she's learned that somehow there's a connection between him and the Thieves Guild, and also the attempted abductions of Beast Masters' animals. She also knows that if her boss finds out what she has discovered, it would make her a problem, and he usually disposes of problems.
When the circus lands on Arzor, home to Beast Masters Hosteen and Tani Storm, Laris feels a kinship to them and to Hosteen's family, the Quades. She realizes, however, that she may be endangering them by exposing them to the dark interest of her boss and his ill-intentioned friends. Hosteen and Tani like Laris, too, as does Logan Quade. She would give anything to tell them her dangerous secret, but cannot. Because she knows that her friendship with the Beast Masters could be their downfall, as well as her own.
Andre Alice Norton (1912-2005) was an American science fiction and fantasy author (with some works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction) under the noms de plume Andre Norton, Andrew North and Allen Weston. Norton published her first novel in 1934, and was the first woman to receive the Gandalf Grand Master Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1977, and won the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) association in 1983.
Andre Norton. Wikipedia.