Tor, Aug 2004, 24.95, 384 pp.
Four decades ago Jake Holman and thousands of settlers following him were trapped in the middle of an inter-galaxy war between the militaristic humanoid Furs and the serene flora-like Vines. Jake and his followers supported the Vines against the bellicose Furs though the odds heavily favored the latter. The Vines used a last-hope virus to remove the aggressive tendencies of the Furs.
Jake is old and frail, but feels proud of his accomplishments especially the diversity he brought to Greentrees. Still a fierce contention exists between the Chinese in the city Hope of Heaven against the technocrats of Mira City. When the earth ship Crucible arrives on Greentrees, Captain Julian Martin ruthlessly uses that antagonistic rivalry to further his ambitions to become planetary dictator. He seduces Technology Resources Allocation Officer Alexandra Cutler, a member of the Mira City executive triumvirate, and other key citizens to do his bidding. Off planet the fighting between the Furs and the Vines remains heated.
The story line moves along two paths, off and on the planet, but also is somewhat difficult to follow because of the complex continuous changes as to what is the core of the tale. Most interesting for those who read the first novel is how much Jake has aged from the swashbuckling hero to an elderly statesman ignored by the next generation as being yesterday's news.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner