Everyone thought the Sharra Rebellion, during which the out-of-control matrix burned down an entire city, was over. Lew Alton, who had lost his wife and his right hand in the struggle, had taken the Sharra matrix off-world when he left Darkover hoping that Terran medicine could regenerate his hand. With the matrix dormant, the problem appeared to be solved. But when the Comyn Council tried to give the Alton domain to the Hasturs, Lew was forced to return. The matrix came with him, and the survivors of the Rebellion could not fail to notice its presence as it sought once again to draw them to the service of the fire goddess Sharra.