The second volume of the Chanur saga, set in the Alliance-Union universe, featuring the alien spaceship captain Pyanfar Chanur and her human crewmate Tully.
In this sequel to The Pride of Chanur, Pyanfar Chanur and her human companion, Tully, must sensitive complex interstellar politics without getting caught in an all-out war.
Two years after the events of the previous book, Pyanfar returns to Meetpoint Station with the hani spaceship The Pride of Chanur to find her comrades Goldtooth and Tully. Goldtooth advises Pyanfar to take Tully, whom the enemy kif are hunting, and head for mahen space. The mahendo'sat, on the other hand, retrieved Tully from human space and are paving the way for a fleet of human ships to open up trade with the central Compact.
But the kif and the stsho oppose the humans' presence, for fear of losing their place and influence in the Compact. The kif are themselves involved in a power struggle: two kif leaders, Akkhtimakt and Sikkukkut, are vying for the lofty position of mekt-hakkikt. Sikkukkut draws a reluctant Pyanfar into the feud, and her association with the kif puts her at odds with the han. Then, when the kif conflict spills over into hani space, all she and Tully can do is stay alive until Goldtooth and the human ships arrive.