An addition to Cherryh's medium-future spacefaring saga (Hellburner, 1992) in which, the Company Wars over, freelance trading vessels crewed by extended families ferociously compete for interstellar shipping contracts. Aboard the Hawkins family's Sprite, cargo chief Marie Hawkins nurses a personal grudge against Austin Bowe, captain of the rival Corinthian, who beat and raped her 25 years ago. Obsessed and vengeful, Marie intends to destroy Austin by proving that his ship trades illegally with pirates and smugglers. When both ships dock at the Mariner space station, she pounces. Concerned for her welfare, her son, Tom -- Austin's boy -- interferes with Marie's plans and for his pains is shanghaied and confined aboard Corinthian by his half-brother, Christian. While the desperate Marie persuades Sprite's captain to pursue the Corinthian, and a ship full of genuine bad guys draws ever nearer, Tom adapts to his new life aboard his father's vessel -- a life that is neither as dangerous nor as unpleasant as Marie had led him to expect. Rather heavy-handed in the violence department, and gabbily flabby with interior monologues, but carried along by the lively characters and sturdy plot. Overall, well up to previous standards.