In this first volume of The Gene Wars , C. J. Cherryh creates a universe where two interstellar empires, scarred by nanotechnology weaponry, hover in an uneasy dÉtente. The fate of these worlds lies in the hands of one man: a prince and a warrior named Marak.
Marak has always hidden his `madness' - voices and visions that beckon him toward a silver tower. When betrayal brings him face to face with the dictator of his world, the mysterious Ila, Marak is assigned a seemingly suicidal mission to cross his planet's vast desert and find that tower.
Miraculously reaching his goal, he is given another, even more impossible mission by the beings within the tower itself: lead his people to safety before the deadly hammer of Ila's enemies falls.