The Planet Cadwal has an ecosystem unique in the human-explored galexy; a thousand years past it was established as a natural preserve, protected from normal colonization and exploitation, where residence was restricted to a precisely limited number of scientists and their immediate families. Now the human Conservators are facing a conspiracy of humans and aliens to wrest control of their world away, and open it to full commercial use.
Glawen Clattuc is the scion of one of the ruling scientific houses of Cadwal. Barred from full citizenship by the rules of the Conservancy, he nonetheless remains loyal to its ideals and principles. Clattuc joined the interplanetary police forces, but almost immediately found himself investigating his own family. There are hidden crimes in his own history, as well as the key to resolving the crisis that is gripping all of Cadwal.
John Holbrook "Jack" Vance (1916–2013) was an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction writer. Though most of his work has been published as by Jack Vance, he also wrote 11 mystery novels using his full name John Holbrook Vance, three under the pseudonym Ellery Queen, and once each using the pseudonyms Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.
Vance won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and he was a Guest of Honor at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made him its 14th Grand Master in 1997 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001, its sixth class of two deceased and two living writers.