The second Spiral Arm book and so the sequel to The January Dancer. Unlike it, it is not a retrospective tale. It is still, however, a tale of vivid characters, intriguing plot twists, marvelous and marvelously detailed planetary societies -- the planets are, I think better, even
Spoilers ahead for The January Dancer.
The harper is going to look for her mother, because the Kennel has given up. Donovan, knowing something of what it would take to keep Bridget ban away and make the Kennel gives up, agrees to go with her to High Tara, to get the Hounds to talk her out of it. What happens is that the harper's goodfather, as they put it, her honorary uncle, makes some threats about what will happen to Donovan if she is injured or killed on her quest.
And so they are off, tracking Bridget's known itinerary after she left -- telling her daughter she would be back soon -- in hopes that her daughter would pick up clues that the Hounds would miss. Not to mention, as it turns out, clues that Donovan would pick up. And we learn more about the end results of what happened to Donovan after the action of The January Dancer. Plus a few hints of what actually happened -- not many. They track through exotic worlds -- visit jewelers, see a lynch mob, travel third class, present a bribe on the pretense of asking the official for an opinion of the engraving, meet a ship captain who remembers Donovan, have the harper play for an emperor who would rather build bridges, track Bridget by a pseudonym only three people know, and otherwise see adventure.
They also continue their talk about quests and other matters of life and death.
And there is an amazing amount of detail that you can track back to the old Terra of nowadays -- or earlier.
This book also benefits from being read slowly. Chock full of stuff.