The planet Ellerkan is a very confusing place for Susan and her two children, Michael and Jennifer. One moment they are driving back from McDonalds, and the next moment they are in a forest being shot at with laser rifles while being chased by Knights in armour.
Susan is rescued by Cameron and Soo-Kai, but despite their help her two children are lost. Jennifer, like Cameron’s daughter, is captured by soldiers of the Dragon Prince and taken to the Dragon’s Lair. Michael escapes when he runs into Chen-Soo. A friendship quickly forms, and it is a friendship that will have an important effect on all their lives.
At the house of Rolf L’Epine, Susan learns the history of Ellerkan, but the answers only create more questions. Ellerkan is rent by a bloody civil war, and events soon overtake her and her children as feuding Princes, ancient wars and forgotten technology all add confusion and death.
Who are the troopers that sneak about the forest? What is it they want, and why did they sabotage a colony ship and then abandon it and its passengers and crew? Why is it that Rolf fears his own daughter, Chen-Soo? Will Kai-Tai lead the surviving Androktones against them? And what motivates Vin-Ra, the Androktone that now lives in the castle? And why have all the children been taken there?
Only one fact is clear. The only way to escape from Ellerkan is through the portal in the Althon Gerail, one of the last of the Twelve Great Ships. But the wreck of the Althon Gerail lies buried beneath the Dragon’s Lair Castle, and to rescue their children and reach it, Susan and Cameron must face the Androktones, the troopers, the army of the Dragon Prince, and the horrors that dwell within the ship itself.