On an alien world, a sect of fundamentalist, anthropocentric "Missionaries" are drawn into the affairs of two native communities: the apparently friendly Garkohn and their enemies, the Tehkohn, who preserve a harsh but just hierarchy of which the Garkohn society is a debased mockery. Alanna, foster daughter of the Missionary leader, is kidnapped by the Tehkohn and soon finds a satisfying kinship with their valorous ways. After her marriage to the Tehkohn leader Diut and subsequent recapture by the Missionaries, Alanna must bring about an alliance between the two groups before the treacherous Garkohn can enslave the humans to their own purposes. Butler, a vigorous and nimble storyteller (Patternmaster, Mind of My Mind) has yet to prove herself a deeply thoughtful novelist. The Missionary society is a mere cardboard foil to the more vivid portrayal of the Tehkohn, and the one complex figure in the story—Jules, Alanna's loving but xenophobic foster father—is never explored with the thoroughness he seems to deserve. Still, one suspects that this author may give us something really first-rate one of these days.