Published thirteen years after The Romulan Way, it takes place a couple of months after that novel. There’s a lot effectively unsettled after that, and this book picks up on all the threads, and even brings in K’s’t’lk from her novel The Wounded Sky.

Past all that, other forces are in motion. Duane’s Romulan (sorry, Rihannsu) Empire is struggling economically, and with recent events, the Klingons are preying on outer colonies. The government is tightening its grip on colonies, which are getting more restless, while concentrating on Ael, who took one of the most unimaginably priceless relics of the Empire, and the Federation, which is sheltering her.

It’s a big story, which Duane tells very well. There’s a lot going on, and sadly, it does take a while to start cohering into a solid shape. There’s a good mix of action and setup at the beginning, which then settles down to get the main plot going.

Unfortunately, the determination of Pocket to keep all its Star Trek novels short gets solidly in the way here, as this is literally the first half of the book, even though the full version would be ~400 pages, which is a merely moderate sized post-70s novel. The second part was the next one released (#96), and it picks up with chapter 6. So at the end, we’re still in the setup phase.