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The great powers are at peace - but private conflicts are eternal. Witness the blood feud between the Merchanter ships Sprite - crewed by the several hundred-member Hawkins family - and Corinthian, a ship suspected of trading with pirates and smugglers. But this rivalry isn't mercantile, it's fueled by Sprite Cargo Chief Marie Hawkins' vendetta against Corinthian Captain Austin Bowie, a burning crusade that has warped Marie's life, driving her half-mad. When both ships dock at Mariner space station, Marie vanishes. Fearing that she is bent on vengeance - a vengeance that might jeopardize Sprite's trading status and future - Marie's 23-year-old son Tom tries to find and stop her, only to be shanghaied aboard Corinthian. Now Tom is trapped, destination unknown, on a starship speeding him away from all he has known, with no hope of rescue or return... held prisoner by a crew fanatically loyal to Tom's sworn enemy. The man who, decades before, battered and violently raped Tom's mother. Austin Bowie - Tom Hawkins' father.
Another good look at the internal workings of Merchanter ship-life. The 2 ships are totally different in style, but both are quite functional in their own way. Cherryh shows us characters who adapt, and learn to deal with their situation, however strained.
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