The annual increment to Moon’s military-family space saga (Change of Command, 1999, etc.). Heroine Esmay Suiza of the Familias Regnant’s Space Fleet has married fellow-officer Barin Serrano. Unfortunately, this was doubly against Fleet regulations, and Esmay finds herself ejected, apparently at the orders of her great-aunt, Admiral Vida Serrano. To try to plead her case, she heads for Fleet HQ on planet Castle Rock aboard a freighter. Barin, meanwhile, sees action against the mutineers that threaten the stability of the Familias, and is nearly killed conducting damage-control operations. Amid various political machinations, the rival Benignity seeks to pressure the Familias into foregoing the rejuvenation techniques they’ve developed. Lady Cecelia de Marktos of Sirialis accompanies Miranda, the murdered Lord Thornbuckle’s widow, into exile after it emerges that Miranda personally killed her husband’s assassin. They’re captured by mutineers, then organize a daring escape. At last Esmay is recalled to duty and hurtles off in pursuit of a Fleet admiral suspected of being a Benignity agent.
Brisk start, disappointing finish: a so-so installment.