The threads laid out in the first three books in the Skywatchers series begin to be woven together in Strangers, my Kin.

Life in Sheruflag has settled down after the upheaval caused by the arrival of Tarkan fanatics. If people have to guard their tongues, to hide their pasts, or to keep their thoughts private, this seems an acceptable price to pay for relative security in these troubled times. Religious observance is widespread and conformist, there are few dissenters to track down, and there is a cautious optimism that the worst may be over. Rural communities and townsfolk alike are keeping their heads down, hoping to avoid attracting attention or suspicion. They do not dare admit that they regret the passing of the rich variety of beliefs, opinions and ideas that hitherto characterised their land, or of the tolerant and easy-going society that they once took for granted.

But those who have been called to help usher in a new world order are preparing to challenge the Tarkan mindset that has almost overcome their native open-mindedness. Lawgivers and priests, pathfinders and healers, all have a part to play. But these disparate people have their own priorities and problems, and it will not be easy for them to move beyond their personal concerns to work together. They need to find a secret location where they can argue out a plan and identify the steps they must take, hidden from the vigilant eyes of the Tarkans.

Two slaves, vital to the cause, have escaped from Hantor, but he is determined to recapture them, and they have a long way to go before they can join those who will work alongside them. And there is not much time – ready or not, those who would steer a more enlightened course must make a stand at the New Year ceremony that forms the climax of this book.

Strangers, my Kin inspires us with the knowledge that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things, and that cooperation and mutual respect can overcome bigotry and oppression.

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