Science Fiction novel by C.J. Cherryh, part of the Faded Sun trilogy. * * * *

Kesrith is a world in transition: The clannish race of Regul, having been defeated in their interstellar war against Humanity, must cede it the victorious forces.

Sten Duncan is the assistant of Ambassador George Stavros, who is travelling to Kesrith as the primary Human authority for the transition. The problem is, the Regul are busy stealing anything on the planet that can be unbolted, and destroying anything else. The fleet of Human warships won't arrive for some time.

The other trouble is, the Regul didn't tell anyone that Kesrith was the homeworld they promised to the mri in payment for their services as mercenaries.

The mri are a warlike species who have no tolerance for weakness and who are utterly uncompromising on matters of tradition. This combined with their service to the Regul in a losing war has virtually annihilated them. There is but a single edun of mri left on Kesrith, and only a single ship of survivors has returned home from the war.

The edun consists mostly of extremely old mri (not that they couldn't do you in in an eyeblink), most of whom belong to the priestly Sen caste. The breeding class of Kath is extinct. Of the soldier caste the Kel, there are but a dozen. And of them, only one, Niun, is in his physical prime.

As chaotic as the situation is, events swirl even faster when Sten Duncan meets Niun.....

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