After their starship crashes on an inhabited planet somewhat short of their intended destination, a group of colonists try to fit, as best they can, into this new society. This is the first volume in the Seas of Kilmoyn series.
Into the growing subgenre of military SF comes this absorbing novel, which opens with a muddle of races struggling for control of the planet Kilmoyn's land and sea using tactics and technology on the level of 19th-century Earth. Sean Lincoln Borlund is a human colonist, or Drylander, a member of the colonists' Study Group devoted to observing Kilmoyn's native cultures without becoming involved with them. When Borlund has the bad luck to break the noninterference directive by helping out during a boating accident, he is assigned to serve aboard the merchant vessel Lingvaas as punishment. Captained by Drylander Barbara Weil, and served by a mixed crew of human and native (Kertovan) sailors, the ship turns out to be Borlund's ideal environment. Before long he's earned a captain rating himself, just in time to take command as the Lingvaas and her crew are commissioned by the Kertovan Captain Over Captains, Jossu I Hmilra, to assist in a major military action against a rival nation. Taking sides breaks every rule in the Study Group's book, but Weil and Borlund can't help feeling more loyalty for the culture that has nurtured their abilities than for the human Directorate that has stymied them.