Noren knew that his world was not as it should be--it was wrong that only the Scholars, and their representatives the Technicians, could use metal tools and Machines. It was wrong that only they had access to the mysterious City, which he had always longed to enter. Above all, it was wrong for the Scholars to have sole power over the distribution of knowledge. The High Law imposed these restrictions and many others, though the Prophecy promised that someday knowledge and Machines would be available to everyone. Noren was a heretic. He defied the High Law and had no faith in the Prophecy's fulfillment. But the more he learned of the grim truth about his people's deprivations, the less possible it seemed that their world could ever be changed. It would take more drastic steps than anyone imagined to restore their rightful heritage.
Through a strange turn of fate Terry Steward, born Terry Radnor, was in the right place at the right time to save the secret colony Maclairn from terrorists who would have destroyed its plan to spread advanced mind powers to Earth and the other worlds of humankind. Now with his own starship Estel, he sets out to further that plan by journeying from world to world, heralding the hopeful future about which he alone knows the full truth. Yet he is all too aware that Maclairn’s enemies still pose a threat, and that on Earth the persecution of people who develop such powers is increasing. Soon targeted by bounty hunters, Terry can see no way to combat a planet-wide conspiracy—nor does he guess that if he lives long enough, he is destined for an even greater role in human history than he has played as a defender of Maclairn's cause.
This is the second book in the Rising Flame series. The first, Defender of the Flame, should be read before this one, but these two can be read independently of the preceding Hidden Flame series, Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame, which are set more than two centuries earlier.