The Panarch of Pao is dead and Beran Panasper, his young son and heir, must flee the planet to live and avenge his father's death. It is at the secret fortress on the planet Breakness that Beran discovers the dreaded truth behind the assassination of his father-and much more. The people of Pao are a docile lot, content to live in harmony with the rest of the cosmos, but the scientists at Breakness seek to alter the psychology of the Paonese for their own purpose-and Beran holds the key to their audacious plan. Beran will return to Pao, transforming his home world beyond his teacher's wildest dreams. But though he has been fashioned into a man of Breakness, Beran's heart is of Pao. And he brings to his world the seeds of change that will save Pao...or destroy it.