King Carolin Hastur is revolutionizing Darkover through his compact--the agreement that every weapon be banned if it does not put its user at equal risk. The magical weapons that have dominated Darkover for generations, since the times of chaos at least, would be banned and magic would become limited to healing, to communications. Together with his friend and ally, Varzil Ridenow, he has spread the message and gotten agreement, but much of Darkover sees only what they lose by signing the compact.
A generation before, the Hastur king had destroyed the Deslucido family leaving only one man--and his sons alive. Now, Eduin Deslucido, who has already done so much to destroy Carolin's dreams, has an ally--a man trained in magic but now blessed or burdened with a goddess. Using this tool, Eduin hopes to destroy Varzil and then the last of the Hasturs, finally freeing himself of the curse that his father laid upon him.