Far-future science-fiction outing, with a peripheral role for Norton's well-known alien Forerunners, from the Grand Dame of the field. Much of planet Asborgan's resources are directed toward producing all but irresistible, Ninja-style warrior isshas; once they have given their oath, issha remain utterly loyal to their employers. But when off-world-born Jofre's Lair Master dies, Jofre is cast out by the Lair's jealous and obsessed Shagga priest. At the spaceport, Jofre gives his oath to the alien Zacathan--Zurzal, who has built a time-scanner and proposes to search nearby planets for Forerunner artifacts. For reasons Jofre cannot fathom, Shagga agents follow Jofre and Zurzal off-planet and attempt to have them neutralized. But also aboard the spaceship is Taynad, a female issha on an associated mission; Jofre's instinct is to trust her, but he's not sure where her employers' loyalties lie. Gradually, aided by a stone of power that Jofre recovered from an abandoned Lair before he left Asborgan, Jofre grows in understanding and assurance, and eventually realizes why the Shagga and his allies are hounding him: the xenophobic Asborgans cannot permit an off- worlder to acquire the powers of a Lair Master. Finally: Will Taynad help Jofre or destroy him? Pleasingly peopled, and with a satisfyingly convoluted plot: Norton's most persuasive solo outing in quite some time.