The book tells the story of Ran-Del Jahanpur, a warrior from a forest tribe that focus on mental discipline and aim to live in tune with nature. He is kidnapped by Baron Hayden, a noble from a technologically advanced city, who keeps him prisoner, but otherwise treats him as an honoured guest. Despite the empathy granted by his training, Ran-Del struggles to understand both the Baron’s plans and the society that holds him.
With a plot that moves back and forth between the forest and the city, the novel skilfully balances the benefits and disadvantages of psychic and technological solutions and the cultures that have grown up around them.
I found Ran-Del to be a well-developed character. His social and moral choices are sometimes better and sometimes worse than others, making him neither the noble savage or the uncultured rural. He also displays an entirely believable assumption that, having grown up feeling if people are lying himself, everyone will know that he is telling the truth if he denies wrongdoing.
The other main characters have similar depth, each displaying a personal reaction to the facets of other culture that they meet. This complexity of response makes both the growing friendships and fledgling rivalries more meaningful and the sudden elevation of a minor character to significance more believable.
The speed and ease with which Ran-Del became able to function in the city seemed unrealistically fast. However this is mostly due to the elision of the repeated little conflicts that is common to most stories dealing with potential integration into an alien culture, and is preferable to too much exposition of the differences.
Overall I found this story very enjoyable. I would recommend it to people who like fantasy or science-fiction set in a complex societies.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair review.