With a tale of human and other slaves abandoned by harsh masters on an ostensibly deserted planet, McCaffrey begins another highly readable series about successful survival in difficult circumstances. Kristin Bjornsen, an escaped human slave on the planet Barevi, saves one of the Catteni masters, Zainal, from being killed in a blood feud. When she tries to return him to the capital city, she is caught in a roundup of troublemakers designated for colonization duty. Among those dropped with few supplies on the unexplored new planet, later named Freedom, is Zainal, who turns out to be an aristocrat of his species. After Zainal is again saved from death, this time at the hands of vengeful former slaves, he casts his lot with the castaways, who have turned to former Marine sergeant Chuck Mitford for leadership. In sturdy Robinson Crusoe fashion, the survivors overcome the odds against them, rescue other castaways and find signs of a mysterious civilization that is using Freedom as a giant mechanized farm. They also deal with the few bad apples in their midst. Meanwhile love blossoms between Zainal and Kristin, to the displeasure of some of the other humans. McCaffrey has created another set of winning protagonists and a carefully detailed, exotic background on which to develop a new series.
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