The fourth part of Donaldson's five-book series (A Dark and Hungry God Arrives, 1992, etc.) centers on a far-future power struggle by proxy between benevolent United Mining Companies police boss Warden Dios and malign UMC chief Holt Fasner. Following the successful destruction of Thanatos Minor, a ship flees into deep space carrying familiar characters: raging, formidable cyborg Angus Thermopyle, forever scheming to break free of his programming; beautiful, brutalized cop Morn Hyland and her clone/son Davies; vicious pirate Nick Succorso; and biochemist whiz Vector Shaheed, who urges Angus to seek out a remote laboratory where he can duplicate Succorso's vital immunity drug. Following them is another ship, controlled by humans mutated into alien slaves by the Amnion -- aliens intent on grabbing Davies and the immunity drug as part of their plan to develop perfect human duplicates and conquer human-occupied space. Following them is still another vessel, this one bearing UMC director Min Donner, charged to keep an eye on matters and, if possible, rescue poor Morn. Donaldson's work is instantly recognizable and remarkably consistent: Anguish is the price of admission; misery keeps the customers coming back for more; enjoyment is sheer hell.