"The mad shall be searched out and given to the Ila's messengers. No man shall conceal madness in his wife, or his son, or his daughter, or his father. Every one must be delivered up." -- The Book of the Ila's Au'it
Marak has suffered the madness his entire life. He is a prince and warrior, strong and shrewd and expert in the ways of the desert covering his planet. In the service of his father, he has dedicated his life to overthrowing the Ila, the mysterious eternal dictator of his world. For years he has successfully hidden the visions that plague him -- voices pulling him eastward, calling Marak, Marak, Marak, amid mind-twisting visions of a silver tower. But when his secret is discovered, Marak is betrayed by his own father and forced to march in an endless caravan with the rest of his world's madmen to the Ila's city of Oburan.
Instead of death, Marak finds in Oburan his destiny, and the promise of life -- if he can survive what is surely a suicidal mission. The Ila wants him to discover the source of the voices and visions that afflict the mad. Despite the danger sof the hostile desert, tensions within the caravan, and his own excruciating doubts, Marak miraculously reaches his goal -- only to be given another, even more impossible mission by the strange people in the towers.
According to these beings who look like him yet act differently than anyone he has ever known, Marak has a slim chance to save his world's people from the wrath of Ila's enemies. But to do so, he must convince them all -- warring tribes, villagers, priests, young and old, as well as the Ila herself -- to follow him on an epic trek across the burning desert before the hammer of the Ila's foes falls from the heavens above.
Written with deceptive simplicity and lyricism, this riveting, fast-paced epic of war, love, and survival in a brave new world marks a major achievement from the masterful C.J. Cherryh.
In the second volume of "The Gene Wars," C. J. Cherryh further explores the captivating new universe where two interstellar empires, scarred by nanotechnology weaponry, hover in an uneasy detente. Perched at the edge of the galaxy, tiny Concord Station holds the balance of the universe within its carefully regulated worlds. For, created to carefully monitor the crucial desert planet below, it lies in the tenuous intersection between the territories of Earth and the alien Ondat.
Marak Trin Tain has saved a planet′s people from total destruction, when the implacable ondat sent down a hammerfall to destroy the planet and keep its deadly nanoceles from changing life and evolution forever. But the regrowing planet is fragile, and a deadly cataclysm could destroy Marak--and with him, the hope for peace within the universe.
Meanwhile, on Concord, an unexpected ship from Earth disrupts the uneasy truces between human and alien, and the consequences could restart the terrible Gene Wars that once destroyed most of humanity.