The inhabitants of the penal planet Botany had fought a grim and dangerous war to free themselves from their Eosi overlords. Now the Eosi were gone, and both Botany and Earth were free again - free, but in serious trouble as the theft of all their communications satellites by the Catteni (working for their Eosi masters) had left them isolated and in a desperate situation.
Hoping that everything stolen from them would be returned, they found that Catteni greed had triumphed. The merchants of Barevi refused to give up the stolen goods unless a substantial ransom was paid.
Earth was in a particularly bad way: disease, vandalism, starvation and the breakdown of their mechanical world had left its people fighting for survival. They desperately needed the goods the Barevi were hoarding.
And so Zainal, Kris, and a courageous team from Botany set off to try and outwit the thieving merchants. It was an expedition that led to a horrifying replay of an old nightmare for Kris - and only Zainal could save her and the future of both Earth and Botany.
"Anne McCaffrey, one of the queens of science fiction, knows exactly how to give her public what it wants"