Nearly ten years after the unexpected return of the starship Phoenix, the alien atevi have three functioning space shuttles, and teams of atevi engineers labor in orbit to renovate the space station. But these monumental advances not only add a dangerously powerful third party to an already precarious diplomatic situation, but rouse pro- and anti-space factions in atevi society to incendiary levels. To help negotiate these treacherous diplomatic waters, Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the atevi’s Western Association, has sent the only human he fully trusts into space: his own paidhi, Bren Cameron.
However, the threat of possible invasion by hostile aliens who attacked Phoenix’s station in a far-off sector of space hangs over them all. And when one of the senior captains of the Phoenixconfesses that this station was not completely destroyed, as had been previously thought, the crew mutinies. How can Bren hope to mediate on a station overcome by a rebellious crew intent on taking the Phoenix on a rescue mission back into hostile alien territory?
OK, that was the official blurb.
The fun part. That vicious old lady grandmother of Tabini-aiji also shows up on the station, bossing everyone around and you absolutely got to love her. And she is going on the space ship, for the trip out to the allegedly dead station, along with her great grandson, the six-year-old klutz, who can not be trusted around precious objects. She gets into it with the new ship captain, another vicious woman, and the sparks fly, the Security of all parties are strung way tight, and it is just a hoot.