Overblown space soap-operatics from the author of The Carnelian Throne. Meet the disagreeable Kerrion clan, operators of a galactic trading empire--who ""grate,"" ""snarl,"" ""rasp,"" ""spit,"" or ""hiss"" lines like ""Quiet, creature of lamentable relatedness due to an ill-thought moment of passion"" as they plot to take over the rival Labaya family's holdings. There's fierce sibling rivalry between rugged Chaeron and sensitive Marada, potential successors to godfather-figure Parma; there's scheming by Parma's wife Ashera (her youngest son Julian is mama's boy and out in the cold); and there's a welter of political infighting, treachery by old retainers, suicide, blackmail, conspiracy among trusted underlings, kidnap, and murder. Then into all this is thrust Shebat, a young girl from barbarian Earth who acquires new survival skills in a hurry: she learns to pilot a spaceship and (victim of an obscure plot) descends to the criminal underworld, where she becomes a dream dancer, a whorish creature who produces the lurid fantasies which have replaced all forms of mass entertainment. Only for readers who are desperately hungry for a family-dynasty-soap/sf hybrid.