New galaxy-hopping, picaresque adventure from a master storyteller (Night Lamp, 1996, etc.). From planet Vermazen, Dame Hester Lajoie departs in her space yacht to seek the Fountain of Youth, having agreed to take along her great-nephew Myron Tany. But on planet Taubry, Dame Hester becomes beguiled by the handsome rogue Marko Fassig, and when Myron protests, he's unceremoniously dumped. Luckily, the tramp cargo vessel Glicca is just then in need of a supercargo, and Myron signs on with cool, competent Captain Maloof, Chief Engineer/gambler Schwatzendale, and Chief Steward/photographer Wingo. The four enjoy a string of rare adventures on a spectacular series of planets: They acquire as passengers a group of pilgrims and their mysterious luggage; on planet Scropus, they meet the canny Euel Gartover, who hypnotizes incorrigible criminals; on Terce, Myron narrowly avoids being skinned and eaten; Schwatzendale relieves the pilgrims of their spare cash and belongings while scheming for revenge upon his old foe, the mountebank Moncrief, another passenger; and on Fiammetta, Wingo trades for a set of eerie carvings, while Myron and the Captain claim a unique collection of warrior's helmets. But then, instead of a rip-roaring climax, the yam fizzles out amid evasions, hints, and sidelong glances. Grand yarn-spinning, but unsatisfying: Did Vance simply grow bored, or is he setting up a sequel? Time will tell.