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Conditions on the icy world of Thorwal are desperate. A feud with the Dakota asteroid has left the planet on the brink of starvation, and outright war threatens if Thorwal does not set free the imprisoned Dakotan leader Motega.

Ironically, Motega is dead, fried to cinders in his cell. So Nisa Calydon, niece and heir to Thorwal's ruler, embarks on a daring scheme to replace their prisoner with a look-alike. But where can she find such an impersonator?

On Akanda, the brave warrior Seneca is at the end of his quest to find a sacred sapling for his village when he's whisked off to another planet by the lovely Nisa. What incentive, however, can the lady possibly invent to persuade him to pull off this masquerade voluntarily?

An exciting new voice makes a noteworthy debut in this tale of star-crossed lovers. Although the plot is somewhat improbably developed, Ms. Piel devises an intriguing set of plot twists to keep reader curiosity at a high level and comes up with a nifty resolution for lucky readers. (Nov., 368 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer