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Cale Alexandros was five years old when the path of his life was irrevocably altered. As the scion of a wealthy and powerful family, he enjoyed a privileged existence—until his family’s starship was attacked en route to Morningstar, the lone outpost of civilization on a savage planet known as Conrad’s World. In an escape ship, Cale crash-landed in the wilds, and was picked from the wreckage by nomads. For years, Cale is forced to endure life as a slave, sold and shuffled from one group of brutish thugs to another—until a trader recognizes a glimmer of promise in Cale’s eyes, and frees him. Cale travels far and wide, but he never forgets what happened long ago, in the desert wastes . . . when, in a strange, ancient temple, he found a book with pages made of a strange metal, and writings he could not identify. When he finally reaches Morningstar, he comes to realize that the book is a key to understanding a language never heard by mankind, an alien dialect. It also holds a secret that some people want to learn, a treasure that some want for themselves, and a revelation that some will do anything to control.