When the Voloth invaded Alsea, Lancer Andira Tal thought the hard part would be fighting off a techlogically advanced army. It wasn't. In the aftermath of war, Alsean society is deeply divided and Tal is facing issues Lancer has ever dealt with before. How to rebuild, what to do with the Voloth prisoners, when and how to release the new techlogies-the pressure is building and Tal is showing cracks, which her enemies are glad to exploit. The most divisive of the new techlogies are the matter printers, desired by some castes and feared by others, especially the producers. When a challenge gives Tal the opportunity to bring the producers to her side, she leaves the capital to work in the fields of Hol-Opah. There she finds an unexpected sanctuary-and the promise of something she has wished for all her life. But sanctuary and dreams are distractions, and Tal's inattention may cost her everything.