The first part of C.J. Cherryh's award-winning triad introduces the planet and complex politics of Cyteen, part of the Alliance/Union universe. Resources are limited and the scientific compound of Reseune, which produces computer-trained clones called azis, is a major power center. Reseune's lead scientist, the fierce and cruel Dr. Ariane Emory, has dominated Cyteen's political scene for decades. When she is assassinated, Reseune officials railroad a suspect and then experiment by creating a personal duplicate of Ariane. The bad news is, a clone isn't good enough. They want to recreate Dr. Emory's mind as well, and devise an artificial life for the little Ariane who'll be raised just like the original.