A sequel to the alien-contact yarn Foreigner (1994). A human colony has been permitted to develop on the island Mospheira, though the native humanoid atevi suffer no humans to travel elsewhere on their planet, save only the paidhi or translator/technical liaison, the young and personable Bren Cameron. A treaty guarantees the rights of the humans while encouraging the controlled release of advanced technology to the atevi. But now the starship that originally brought the humans, and that disappeared two centuries ago, suddenly returns, precipitating crises in both human and atevi governments. Bren, injured and undergoing surgery on Mospheira, is abruptly recalled by the Western Association, the most influential atevi faction. Confused and in pain, Bren learns that Mospheira has sent in his successor, Deana Hanks, an economist with political connections but few translating skills and a poor grasp of atevi psychology. Representing a faction who loathe the atevi and will take any opportunity to return into space, Hanks further complicates matters by dickering with rebellious atevi factions and blabbing that the starship can travel faster than light -- a concept anathema to the conservative atevi religion. Bren's one hope is to talk directly to the starship as the atevi's representative -- a move sure to be violently opposed by most humans and some atevi. Then, having found allies aboard the starship, Bren, somehow, must guide them to a safe landing among the atevi in the teeth of atevi factional strife and a looming interspecies war. Contrived plotting, and intense, not to say claustrophobic, intrigue, with distinctive and memorable aliens. What's missing is a spark of innovation to help distinguish it from its impressive predecessor.