The story starts out with a prologue that introduces the main character, Ming Dalamani. She along with other members of her clan are on a secret smuggling mission to prove the base of technology that may someday throw off the tyrranical reins of the RENASCO organization. Something goes wrong and Ming, along with the rest of her crew, is caught and mind wiped. She is sent to a beautiful world to become an artist and calligrapher. Meanwhile, something unheard of is happening; she is receiving back her mind wiped memory while at the same time she is expected to act as a spy for the evil RENASCO organization. She gains the favor of the world leader, falls in love with a musician who is also an undercover agent for the Old School and generally finds herself falling deeper and deeper into a tangled mess as she tries to figure out where her loyalties lie and where they ought to lie. The climax, and final denouement of her predicament, while satisfying, comes so quickly that if you do not keep your metaphorical eyes open, you will miss it and bang up against the end of the book.
Kathy Tyers is as usual an amazing prosemaster. She prose-paints landscapes so well that you think you are there in the midst of the wonder of it all as it happens. You feel the breeze, the warm moist air, you hear the call of the birds, the smell of the gel, the sweet rememberance of that first lovers' kiss. She knows how to wrap you up in her story so well that you forget for a while that you are living on Terra Firma in the twenty-first century. My only complaint with this book (and thus the four stars) is that her people were not as easily identifiable with as in past work I read from her. It took me a while to decide that I really cared about what happened to Ming. I immediately did not like the chief of secret police as it should have been, but even now I cannot remember his name, but I do remember Tieg's name and wished I could have gotten to know him better. So in this effort she spent a lot of time building a world, but her characters suffered from her lack of attention; not enough to ruin the book, mind you, but just enough to make me really wonder whether I cared, at least for the first ten chapters or so.
In the end I found I did care, and when Ming throws off her oppressors, wins the guy and helps...well that would be spoiling it for the rest of you. Go ahead and pick up this book. It's a good, entertaining read, it's end is satisfying and it has the best quality of all, it leaves you wanting more. It's worth the price and Kathy deserves praise for making another winner.