M L Sawyer
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Growing up not far from the road to Chinta on the edge of the Jungle Dragon, Tallen is excited to have her two brothers home. Recent times have been hard, Tallen herself barely surviving an attack by a derelict stranger in their very own barn.
The war that never was has relieved them of their duty at Chinta, so much so, that her father, the Sergeant of the Guard, is able to return for a visit, bringing news of a possible suitor for Tallen, given that she is almost of that age.
Tallen is not sure what she wants, and the man her father brings home is not what anyone expected. But at least she knows that her family has her best interests at heart when the pompous, self-interested merchant's son is sent back to Chinta.
The aftermath of the Offworlder's quest remains uncertain, the battle apparently lost. But for a reluctant Tallen, the journey is only just beginning, upon a path from which there may be no return.