Orphaned on a muddy planet and reared by giant paramecia, Lydia observes with inoculated indifference as the nearby Gaean Empire crowns its new, ugly Empress.
On coronation day, one of the paramecia tries to stop the ceremony, his investigation of Lydia’s heritage showing she is far more than an ambassador’s daughter. Lydia’s life goes haywire. Pursued across the galaxy, she tries to discover why her fellow humans have taken a sudden dislike to her, and why her adopters are going to such lengths to protect her.
Going into hiding takes her deep into the seedy underground of New Athens, the Imperial capitol, where the secrets of her past lie, her parents’ deaths no accident.