Atheling: Anglo-Saxon for prince. 2047. Earth is dying after nuclear wars. As a new arms race builds, Pylar Fazhakian, an elderly leader of an Armenian mystic sect, appears at a Palo Alto defense installation claiming to have data that will give Pan-America advantage over the other two main world blocs. But Fazhakian-the Hesikastor-has more than secret codes. As Ellisen, the Pan-American leader checks him out, he links psychically with beings on Phrynis in the Pleiades system, a possible refuge for Earth survivors. As a new race begins to seek out the planet's coordinates, its history unfolds through the Hesikastor's mind. The link is not an idle one: there is an agenda. Torc, the atheling, undergoes a token spiritual journey which changes him from a callow, macho heir to a brutal throne into a thoughtful, idealistic seeker whose crown is thereby at risk even before he puts it on. His struggles on Phrynis mirror Ellisen's as that one wrestles with his conscience over the fate of war-torn Earth.