Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Orion (25 Jul 1996)
Also available in the omnibus Chronicles of Carrick V: Orthe, this is the first of two books set on the planet Carrick V. Envoy Lynne de Lisle Christie has been sent to assess the inhabitants of this world, to determine whether they should be accorded agreements with Earth. But the locals aren't as primitive as their low technology preferences indicate, and the planet is littered with the remnants of the past, when the now-feared Golden (or Witchbreed) owned the world, and when trans-marine bridges and the like were built.
Christie lives among the inhabitants, and in the process, gets sucked into the local politics. The natives are like humans, but also different in some important ways. Those differences lead to different setups, and part of what Christie has to do (apart from merely surviving) is to try to make sense of it all. The complexity is, on occasion, overwhelming, and it can be easy to get lost in the details, trying to remember which set of over-apostrophed names is which. However, at its best, the story manages to rise above it, and is most reminiscent of Cherryh when it does.
Not easy, but I found it worth persisting with.