Cyber Avro picks up Dumarest’s trail on Baatz despite Shakira’s precautions.  However, communication with the Cyclan central intelligence is chaotic, and Avro believes the degradation of the gestalt mind is worsening.  He now believes the Affinity Twin is the only hope to save the central intelligence, and again uses his experimental drive to precede Dumarest to Anfisa, where he has deduced Dumarest will soon arrive.  He is wrong, but only because fate intervenes once again to Dumarest’s advantage.

Meanwhile, on board the free trader Thorn, Dumarest’s cabin mate Angado is stricken by an illness that the crew of the Thorn mistakes for plague.  They are both dumped in the wilderness on the thinly inhabited world Velor, where Dumarest protects them from predators and nurses Angado back to health.  Angado turns out to be the titular head of the Karroum, the most important noble family on the wealthy and advanced world Lychen.  However, Angado is more than happy to trade his birthright for an allowance that enables him to roam the galaxy as he pleases, and leave the tedium of rule to his regents.  Dumarest deduces Angado’s ambitious cousin Perotto hired assassins to poison Angado (no more allowance to pay, get official recognition for the job he’s already doing), but Angado refuses to believe it.  At first, Angado is a liability, and Dumarest seems willing to let assassins or the wilderness do him in if he continues to be unwilling or unable to adapt to circumstances.  Two things change Earl’s mind: Angado gradually proves to be determined and resourceful despite his pampered upbringing, and his homeworld Lychen happens to be the world where Chenault lives. Chenault is the man Shakira said might have knowledge of Earth in Book 28, Melome.

Dumarest and Angado eventually find help and earn passage to Yuanka.  Dumarest and Angado make enemies of a gang boss who is shaking down a newly founded church of the Universal Brotherhood.  They also discover Angado no longer has access to his allowance because he has been declared dead.  The little cash they scrounge to secure a working passage offworld is spent instead resolving legal difficulties arising from the deaths of numerous thugs who attacked the church and the persons of Dumarest and Angado.  The authorities want them off-world, pronto, and the only way to raise enough cash quickly is for Dumarest to fight in the arena.  The fight is rigged no less than two ways (sedative on his opponent’s blade, strobe-laser in the eyes from a plant in the crowd), but Dumarest still manages to kill his opponent, although he is critically wounded as well.  All bets are off because Angado has exposed the cheating, so they have no money to pay for medical aid.  Dying and in desperation, Dumarest tells Angado to use the account with Shakira’s money in it (an account he has never used since leaving Baatz because A) Shakira intended the money to sit idle as evidence that Dumarest really died on Baatz, and B) the Cyclan will be able to trace it quickly to him once it is used).

Angado arranges medical treatment, and now that the cat’s out of the bag the pair uses the money to buy passage to Lychen, which despite (or perhaps because of) its wealth and technology is a pretty decadent place.  Once there, Angado plays the dandy to lure out the conspirators while Dumarest A) saves the life of a girl who turns out to be the granddaughter of an antiquities dealer who knows Chenault, B) meets Angado’s reckless but loyal childhood friend Wynne, goes for a ride in her souped-up personal aircar and beds her, C) realizes the locals all think he and Angado are lovers (Earl has known all along Angado is gay but the reader hasn’t, so that’s a nifty surprise) and D) meets Perotto and pretends to accept his offer to assassinate Angado.  Then things start moving really quickly.

Dumarest realizes the whole conspiracy is no longer against Angado, but against himself.  He briefly thwarts attempts to capture him but ends up in a standoff with Perotto and Cyber Avro, who predicted Dumarest would come here after the Thorn arrived at Anfisa missing two passengers, and has been advising Perotto the whole time.  Angado, whose original naivete toward his peers and his situation has been replaced with a newfound objectivity which his time with Dumarest helped awaken, has been biding his time in the background; now he intervenes and triggers a firefight.  Avro is incapacitated, Perotto mortally wounds Angado, and Dumarest kills Perotto.  Angado confesses he loves Dumarest and dies. 

Dumarest forces Wynne, who was an unwitting pawn in Perotto’s scheme, to help him escape.  They almost make it, but are confronted by Cyber Ishaq (who is there as backup in light of Avro’s increasingly abberant behavior) and both Cybers’ acolytes.  Wynne decides the odds are hopeless and betrays Dumarest, who nonetheless escapes in Wynne’s aircar (which Wynne has previously demonstrated to have anachronistic but powerful rocket motors augmenting the more conventional antigravity generator).  Cyber Ishaq, the acolytes and Wynne give chase in Ishaq’s aircar, and attempt to force Dumarest to land by firing on Wynne’s apparently unarmed vehicle.  Dumarest pretends to surrender but then toasts them all with rocket exhaust.  He sets course for Chenault’s estate and takes off at top speed.  The end.

What?!?  Despite being a series, the Dumarest saga doesn’t have many cliffhangers.  Book 16, Haven of Darkness, Book 25, The Terridae, and this one are notable exceptions.

Clues of Earth
An antiquities dealer tells Dumarest where he can find Chenault (for whom he has acquired items in the past), and confirms some previously learned clues about The Original People (and may be affiliated with them himself).  Dumarest ends the novel on his way to meet Chenault.

The Cyclan
Dumarest kills Cyber Ishaq and several acolytes.  He once again confronts Cyber Avro (the first time in the series Dumarest has encountered a recurring nemesis), and again there is no clear winner.  Anomalies in rapport with central intelligence lead Cyber Avro to deduce the degradation of the gestalt mind is worsening.  Avro’s own Homochon elements are swelling, a condition that usually only occurs after a Cyber’s mind is detached from the body and connected to the central intelligence (and which will eventually prove fatal if allowed to progress inside his skull).

The Journey
Shakira arranged for Dumarest to be smuggled from Baatz to Nyne.  Dumarest then took a ship to Tysa and boarded the Thorn there.  Dumarest begins Book 29, Angado, on the Thorn, a ship bound for Anfisa but which is diverted and drops Dumarest on Velor.  From there he takes the Guilia to Yuanka, and from Yuanka he goes to Lychen, where he ends the book.

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