The third in the series (after A Call to Arms and The False Mirror) in which the freedom-loving alliance known as the Weave enlists the aid of the human race to win a centuries-long interstellar war. The action is seen primarily from the perspective of the historian Lalelelang, of the birdlike Wais race. Her academic specialty is warfare, a subject that horrifies the other members of her species; she herself can contemplate it only with the help of drugs and special training. She realizes, however, that she can never understand warfare without observing actual combat. And so Lalelelang journeys to a distant world to view the progress of the war against the mind-controlling Amplitur. In the process, she earns the respect of several humans--the only intelligent race that actually enjoys combat--as well as stumbles on the secret that a number of humans are themselves able to control the minds of other species. Lalelelang convinces them that, as an academic, she will protect their secret; eventually, she also learns that the Amplitur have concocted a fiendishly clever plan for winning the war in spite of apparent defeat: preying on human dissatisfaction with their status in the postwar world to win them as allies. A workmanlike job from Foster, with his usual well-drawn alien characters plus, on a deeper level, an interesting take on the choices facing America in the post-cold war world.