Convicted of three murders, whistle-blower Willie Klein finds himself transported to a penal colony on Domremy where his unlikely job is to kill fellow colonists before they fall into the clutches of insectoid locals.
His gruesome task is only relieved by the growing affection of Entara, an alien pleasure worker from a matriarchal world.
Until, that is, their brief happiness is destroyed, as Entara is called home to an arranged marriage and Willie discovers he is still being stalked by the conspirators he tried to unmask.
It turns out the fearsome claws of the locals are not the main danger either of them will have to face.
When Entara’s priggish husband joins forces with the shadowy Earth corporations, the perils multiply, for the couple must learn whether they can trust belligerent space-going octopi, a primitivist human farmer cult, a mysterious medical team made up of robots and extraterrestrials, or even the bone-chilling locals themselves.
Sacrifices have to be made all around, from planet-to-planet, as humans and non-humans define what the dignity of life means in an ever-shifting future threatened by war and personal exploitation.