In Asaro's far-future interstellar war, the Traders--they have a feudal social system ruled by the viciously sadistic Aristos- -square off against Skolia's Jagernauts, psi-powered space pilot/warriors, and their psi-linked cyberspace Web. On neutral planet Delos, Jagernaut and possible heir to the Skolian leadership Sauscony Valdoria is puzzled to note the presence of an Aristo who seems neither hostile nor cruel; upon closer investigation she discovers that Jaibriol Qox is heir to the Trader throne but ignorant as to the true nature of Trader methods. Not only that, but he, alone among Aristos, has full psi capability that he has been blocked from using. Unable to help herself, Sauscony joins her mind with Jaibriol's--and the pair fall in love. Later, the Traders attack and destroy planet Tams despite the best efforts of Sauscony and her warriors. Jaibriol, fleeing the Trader empire, is captured and tortured by Skolian ruler Kurj, Sauscony's brother. Sauscony has little choice but to arrange Jaibriol's escape so the couple can elope. An imaginative debut that takes off at a frantic pace, with dazzling technology, stirring battles, and mental high jinks, only to subside into tepid romancing. Plenty of energy and invention, wobbly backdrop and plot.