A husband and wife find themselves at odds with each other when they become the center of a whirlpool of galactic intrigue in this top-of-form and very adroit novel containing Hamilton's classic blend of pulp space opera and adult romance.
For 200 years Earth's power and prestige as the center of galactic government has been increasingly eclipsed by that of her growing colonies in far distant star clusters. Now the weakened mother world, celebrating the anniversary of the first space flight, has become a helpless pawn in a struggle between the scheming Orion cluster and the other clusters it hopes to conquer. Enter Jay Birrel, captain of a squadron of space ships in from the cluster Lyra for the celebration, and his brilliant wife, Lyllin, whose exotic looks betray her birth on distant Vega. Jay is of terrestrial descent, and a visit to the ancient family homestead earns him friends and stirs a sense of belonging to the mother world he never knew he possessed. Jay might even want to live here.
But the neighbors aren't as quick to cotton to the alien-looking Lyllin, and the pair soon find themselves at odds over their feelings about the old homestead and the old home planet. Then Orion strikes, and before he can work things out with Lyllin, Jay finds himself called to duty, with only hours to prepare for an epic battle between his own cluster and the aggressor - with the independence of Terra as the prize.