Born the son of a desert prince, Marak trin Tain knows all too well the knife edge between diplomacy and disaster. Centuries ago he was caught in the battle between the terrorist First Movement and Earth, and the resulting destruction when the ondat sent planet-crushing missiles to prevent contagion from uncontrolled nanotechnology. Now, immortal but not invulnerable, he shepherds the evolving world and its brave inhabitants toward a new future. But this utopia is hardly idyllic, and a journey of discovery becomes one of desperation when a violent act of nature threatens even Marak's own survival.
High above on Concord Station, intrigues andalliances from every faction of Earth and the Outsider colonies fight for influence, while the implacable ondat pursue their own unfathomable goals. In the midst of dangerous collusion, all the watcherProcyon wants is to record the miracles of the planet evolving below, sharing in the undreamed-of wonder of watching a new world grow. But the surprise arrival of a ship from Earth upsets the delicate balance of power on the station, and a deadly attack becomes the opportunity for rebellion. Caught up in a web of danger and intrigue, Procyon will step far beyond his comfortable life into a nightmare of dangers, as plot within plot unravels with disastrous consequences.
For the fate of one man could decide the future of human and alien alike ... and the ondat are watching.