McCaffrey's third far-future yarn (The Rowan, 1990; Damia, p. 577) in which powerful psychic Talents teleport cargo and people about the galaxy, while leaving themselves ample time for family doings and telepathic chat. Here, the elder four of Damia's eight Talented children are featured: Laria travels to planet Clarf, home of the weasel-like Mrdini--they have long been fighting a debilitating battle with the implacably expansionist but otherwise incomprehensible Hivers--to teach and to learn. Thian joins a human-led space expedition to collect pieces of a huge Hiver ship that exploded when its sun went nova; he discovers some viable larvae and narrowly escapes assassination. Rojer joins a vessel that is in another solar system. And when Thian's expedition recovers a live Hiver queen, she is placed in escape-proof isolation chambers on the moon; adequately fed, warmed, provided with Thian's larvae, and closely observed by the empathic, supersensitive Zara, the queen settles down to raise her brood...at which point McCaffrey switches off. Considerably more substance than hitherto, but shapeless and exasperatingly inconclusive: only series fans need apply.