After generations of struggle to protect the unique native culture of Darkover from the ambitions of the ruthless Terran Federation, the Terrans have finally been forced to abandon Darkover due to interstellar civil war. As Lew Alton wrestles with the dark shadows from his past, his daughter Marguerida's psychic Gifts warn of her of impending danger. But danger to whom Her husband Mikhail as powerful head of the Hastur Domain is her most obvious worry, for many would stand to gain from his demise. Her son Domenic searches for his place in a world of shifting loyalties, torn by his love for two very different women and troubled by his destiny as the heir to Hastur. But while Darkover's powerful rulers face their personal demons, desperate refugees flood the streets of Thendara, Darkover's capital city, for in the mountains and ancient menace is once again on the rise - a power against which neither sword nor the psychic sorcery of Darkover can prevail.