Butler's "Patternmaster" series has been appearing jigsaw-wise rather than in consistent chronological sequence of events; this latest piece fits into the puzzle somewhere before Mind of My Mind (1977). Doro, the mysterious and cruel immortal who has been wandering the earth since the days of the Pharaohs trying to breed up a race with abilities worthy of his own, has succeeded only in erratically (and often dangerously) reinforcing various predispositions to telepathy and telekinesis among his selected human strains. Collecting a shipload of African slaves to take to one of his breeding-colonies in 17th-century America, he chances on a female "wild seed"—a second though lesser immortal perhaps generated in the wake of some long-ago experiment of his own. But Doro's new discovery proves to have shape-changing abilities which enable her to rebel against his casual creation and destruction of obedient subjects, and a century and a half later to set up her own kinder equivalent of Doro's communities. Butler, a vigorous narrator, has presented herself with an unfortunate dilemma: should everybody speak characterless 20th-century English or some artificial story-book argot? Better the former, which she chooses—but at the cost of divorcing her characters from any real sense of the supposed historical settings. Good story, not quite the right underpinnings.