This gracefully written sequel to Golden Witchbreed powerfully depicts the impact of a high-technology civilization on a decaying planet. Ten years after having served as Earth's first envoy to Orthe, which is struggling to survive after a planetwide holocaust millennia ago, Lynne de Lisle Christie returns there as an advisor to PanOceania, one of Earth's giant multinational companies, which is seeking to discover the technological secrets of the Goldens, the ruling race that had destroyed itself while almost obliterating Orthe. Christie seeks to help the native people, some of whom have been her friends, some her enemies, but all closely bound in her memories and loyalties. Instigated by the last of the Golden, a madwoman seeking domination, war between the poor and starving hiyeks of the Desert Coast and the land-loving telestres of the north is aggravated by smuggled high-tech weapons. Christie, while holding a dreadful secret from the Orthe's past, attempts to mediate. Gentle creates moving, different, yet recognizable societies and people that catch the reader's emotions as they struggle to save themselves.
Sombering story of a woman caught on an alien planet among creatures she loves and respects but can't quite connect with. She's emotionally fragile from a previous catastrope and the political cross-currents within both human and alien societies add to her distress. Moreover, she is being pushed to help the aliens by entities whose motives she does not trust. Both action-filled and haunting. Second in a series, but I read this one first and liked it better without the previous one (which was a more simplistic space-opera, IMHO).
UK edition - Legend Books edition 1988
Sequal to Golden Witchbreed