Independent, fully intelligible sequel to Flesh and Gold (1998). Seven years have passed since Judge Skerow, a dinosaurian, telepathic Khagodi, and human GalFed agent Ned Gattes smashed the Zamos criminal network. Young Verona Bullivant, whose mother was captured and tortured by the predatory, spiderlike Ix (they secrete pheromones that influence the minds and behavior of others), is the adoptive daughter of the Solthree Ambassador on Khagodis. Soon after her arrival, the Ix break into the embassy and abduct her, threatening to torture her unless the Zamos trial is canceled. The Ix are known to have worked for Zamos, which also enslaved the amoeboid, telepathic Lyhhrt. Ned, assisted by six talking monkeys whose abilities have been enhanced by the Lyhhrt, soon rescues the terrified Verona. While Skerow and Verona go into hiding together, other GalFed agents and the local police work to discover exactly what else is going on. The Lyhhrt ask Ned to help them locate Spartakos, a shapeshifting robot who’s rejected their entreaties and disappeared. After various adventures in the Khagodis underworld, Ned locates Spartakos; the robot explains that he’s determined to help the O’e, degraded human clones produced by the Lyhhrt when they were slaves of Zamos. Skerow beats off an Ix attack with her powerful telepathic ability and meanwhile proceeds with her researches: What’s the connection between Verona and Zamos? Well, Zamos turns out to be a criminal family/empire with tentacles reaching into every government and business—and poor Verona, like her mother, is one of them. Sharp, violent, pellucid: that exceedingly rare event, a sequel that surpasses the original. Superlative in all departments, but particularly the marvelous alien characters.