They had called the planet Botany, after the old penal colony on earth. For that is what they were - prisoners and dissidents from other worlds whom the hated Catteni had banished to an empty planet - or what they thought was an empty planet.
Kris Bjornsen and her fellow slaves had survived very well - and one reason was that amongst their number was Zainal, a high ranking Catteni who was as trapped on Botany as they were. Zainal knew the Catteni ways and the Catteni technology, and he had plans for fighting back. For, as he explained, the Catteni too were victims - subject to the mighty and terrifying Eosi race who used the Catteni as a galactic police force - and also used them in more grisly and horrifying ways.
And over Zainal's daring and secret plans, over the surveying expeditions and the exploration of the strange hidden valleys, hung a further mystery - to whom did Botany really belong? Who had created the giant grain sheds - the mammoth machinery that tilled the great fields? The new inhabitants of Botany called them the 'Farmers' - and waited for the day they would come to harvest their crops.
And when that happened, the refugees were awed into silence - for the Farmers were greater than anything the universe had ever seen.
In Freedom's Landing (1995), a group of plucky slaves, both human and alien, were abandoned by their Catteni masters on the planet Botany. With the help of the Catteni rebel Zainal, the colonists survived their early days, and now they're making plans to get even with the Catteni as well as to learn the truth about the mysterious Farmers, or Mech Makers, who seem to be cultivating Botany by means of robots. Told mostly from the point of view of Zainal's human lover, Kris Bjornsen, the plot focuses on the colonists' struggle to survive independent of their Catteni overlords. Though a few settlers want to return to Earth to fight the Catteni, most of the women seem bent on having children and making a real go of the colony. While this wholesale enthusiasm to procreate stretches credulity, McCaffrey's characters are otherwise her usual well-tempered mix of heroes, rogues and out-and-out villains. The setting is crisp and expertly detailed and the plot spins out smoothly, with more than enough hints of future developments to keep readers eager for the next installment in the series.