Princess Valerie deals with ruling her semi-barbaric Space Viking world while her husband, Lucas Trask, has been captured by agents of Aton?, a "civilized" world rule by a despotic bureaucracy and in charge of a large trading empire within the Old Federation. In addition, there seems to be some unlikely collusion on the part of Aton and some Space Viking elements.
When Prince Lucas Trask of Tanith and seventy of his crew were captured by the Atonians, one of the “civilized” worlds of the Old Federation, things seemed bleak: he was tried in a secret court, paraded before the cameras for propaganda, and sentenced to “re-education” at the dreary secret prison known only as Planet X for the crime of being a Space Viking. Using interstellar space ships, high-tech combat troops and nuclear weapons to extort planets of their wealth (the Space Viking’s stock-in-trade) is frowned upon by the corrupt dictatorial bureaucracy of Aton – and Trask is in the way of their imperial aspirations, to boot.
Once on Planet X?, however, it becomes clear that Aton is involved in something far more sinister – a conspiricy going all the way to the distant Sword Worlds, five thousand light-years away! Lucas and his men discover clues to plots and conspiracies over a century old inside an ancient wreck on Planet X – could they also lead to a way to escape the miserable prison world?
Meanwhile, back on Tanith, Lucas’ beautiful wife Princess Valerie is on the trail of Garvan Spasso, an old adversary who has tried and failed to kill the Trasks in the past – and succeeded in kidnapping their infant daughter, Princess Elaine. The beleaguered Valerie has ordered every resource at her command to find her daughter and punish her kidnapper, but Spasso’s ransom for the infant Heir is no less than the throne of Tanith, itself!
Princess Valerie has her allies: Admiral Harkaman, Count Valkanhayn, her fanatical Golden Hand guardsmen, and an embarrassing number of captured warships and enthusiastic Space Vikings. She also has the help of the mysterious Mr. Dawes, a very helpful emissary from the enigmatic figured known as the Wizard, whose reasons for helping Tanith are a mystery – and not necessarily a pleasant one.
But she’ll need all the help she can get, with her charismatic husband lost among the stars. Tanith? has plenty of enemies: the rival Space Viking world of Xochitl?, the Sword Worlds of Gram? and Haulteclere?, and of course the despicable Space Viking turned would-be usurper Garvan Spasso. With her husband missing, her daughter gone, and her nobles grumbling about the state of the Realm, the former schoolteacher from civilized Marduk suddenly has to learn the difference between a reigning princess consort and a ruling monarch of a Space Viking planet in a time of war.