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The story focuses on the character Kindan, featured in Dragon's Kin, who has taken a position as an apprentice at the Harper Hall. In the school-like setting, Kindan has to deal with a bully, a blossoming forbidden relationship, and his role as a protector for new female apprentices after the Masterharper breaks the former taboo against female harpers. The book then deals with an influenza-like pandemic that threatens the lives of holders, as the Weyrs must maintain a quarantine to keep their rosters healthy enough to fight the next Threadfall.
The story additionally explains the loss of many of the records kept prior, during and after colonization, further reducing the Pernese connection with its off-planet origins.:)