Cordass Pell has a problem. When the 21 year old regains consciousness on a strange ship, he finds that he is on his way to serve a life sentence on the frozen penal planet of Demerl. But before the transport arrives, the ship is hijacked by pirates and Pell and the other prisoners are sold as slaves to a sadistic owner in a distant star system. The trouble is that he can’t remember anything about his life before waking up on that prison transport. And someone keeps trying to kill him. As he tries to learn about his mysterious past he realizes that the secret of his identity may hold the key to stabilizing the turbulent political situation in his home nation and perhaps all of human occupied space.