Esmay Suiza and Brun Meager should be friends -- they're both bright, brave, likeable and adventurous. But true friendship doesn't run any smoother than true love. Brun thinks Esmay's a stuck-up prig, and Esmay thinks Brun's a spoiled rich brat who's making a play for Barin Serrano, Esmay's first love. So when Brun fails into the hands of a repressive religious militia movement, Esmay finds herself in disgrace, suspected of conniving at the capture. Even Barin has turned against her, and Brun's powerful family doesn't want Esmay anywhere near the rescue attempt. Meanwhile, Brun has to figure out how to survive on a planet where female captives are surgically muted to keep them from contaminating others. Her luck may have run out, but her courage hasn't -- she's determined to free not only herself, but other, younger captives. This burst of initiative imperils her own rescue, and it will take double her own luck to save her.