Another outing for Thornley's independently intelligible space-military Serege family (Echoes of Issel, 1996, etc.)--father Lujan, mother Darcie, son Tristan. This time, the once-hostile planet Issel requests help to overcome the slave-taking alien masuki, a move that many of the Unified Worlds higher-ups resist since they don't trust Issel. Then an assassin kills several Unified Worlds bigwigs and grievously wounds Admiral Serege, Commander-in-Chief of the Spherzah or special forces. When Lujan eventually recovers, he unearths a devious plot fashioned by Issel's new political masters. Talky and mediocre: about par for series fans.