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Ten years have passed since the end of Confidence Game. In Biora, Tod has found himself repairing the old books left by scholars three centuries ago. These books are valued in Dabion, but in Biora itself they are little more than curiosities, and most of its people cannot even read the books that are so prized outside its borders. Biora has become a land of unending violence, where men are destined to be warriors. Julian, a peaceful young man who has befriended Tod in Biora and learned to read from him, is not at home in his homeland. When traders come to Biora for books to sell in Dabion, they take Julian with them, another curiosity for the Justices.

Aron Jannes is the son of Lord Justice Jannes, a leader in the government of Dabion. Aron is angry at his father's negligence; he is angry at his mother's death ten years ago; he is angry at Elzith for her abandonment of him. It is no comfort to him to discover that his father employs spies. Not all the spies work only for Jannes, though. Justice Rayner, now at the head of Dabion's secret forces, has been following Jannes for more than ten years, and is intent on cornering him at last.

In Dabion, Julian encounters misunderstanding and conflict, a foreigner in a land that accepts only the image of Biorans gathered from their ancient books. Julian is drawn toward Aron, recognizing Aron as another seeker without a home, although Aron is too enthralled by his own anger to return Julian's friendship. One fateful day, Aron rescues Julian from danger almost by accident, and the two young men are thrown together by circumstance. As they become drawn up in Rayner's plots and the political turmoil that sets Dabion at the edge of civil war, Julian and Aron must discover where their loyalties lie and which paths they will walk.

From the Paperback edition.

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