When botanist Nathan Crewe drops onto a secretive and xenophobic world's jungle, all he wanted was some plants. Some samples to make his name in a narrow field and maybe get a spot at a two-bit university. What he didn't expect was to be met by a ring of policewomen pointing state-of-the-art guns at him.
He gets shipped off to a hospital and is imprisoned in a whitewomb, an egg-like place for keeping comatose indivuduals. When he is finally let out, he meets the Pratha h'may of the Ngaesha, who takes him under her wing and teaches him the planet's matrilineal, male-suppressing language. When he recieves an offer of marriage to the heir to one to the Nine Great Families and meets a Pilot who he falls in love with, everything goes under. Not to mention the fact that he has adopted a boy with the same hatred of captivity and subservience they are locked into in that society, and his mother-in-law HATES him.
Examples present in this work:
- Aliens Speaking English: Subverted. Nathan can't understand a word for quite some time, and even then he will never be fully fluent.
- Applied Phlebotinum: there's really no description anywhere of how any of the technology works, it just does because they're so far advanced into the future.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Subverted. N. Lee Wood made up an entire language for the novel.
- The Chessmaster: Yaenida schemed to get Nathan there to help her translate reference books.
- The Clan: There are Nine great Families, all of which control the money-making Worms (wormholes). Partially subverted in that Family members regularly murder each other in such a manner as to make it untraceable, and anyone can marry in or get themselves adopted in.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: the planet looks provincial and quaint, as does the Ngaesha House, but that just masks a vast underground policy of hiding the tech.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: not actual royalty, but the daughters of the Nine Great Families are pretty much princesses.
- Hand Wave: 1. None of the men rebelled against this before because they were raised in the culture, despite the fact that in Real Life, feminists arose.
- Gender-Restricted Ability:"And only women can safely Pilot the great ships through the lair of the celestial Worm."
"So why can't men be Pilots?"
"You don't have the right chromosomes."
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: A majority of dialogue sprinkles in the 'alien' language, until this troper started thinking in it.
- MacGuffin: Well, equality is a driving plot element . . .
- Mooks: the Dhikar
- Obfuscating Stupidity: twice. Once subverted, where he really is completely clueless about this alien culture, and once straight-up, when he disguises his newfound fluency.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: They're called Worms, in this novel, and they are the main income source."Then came the Worms. Without them, we would [be ...] planets in isolation. But with the Worms, there is trade."
- The Plan: Yaenida's plan for getting Nathan on planet and set up for life, setting up her dream for life.
- Redshirts: the other whitewomb prisoners, to an extent, and his distant brother-in-law that ends up mentally incapaticated and disowned by the family for actually fighting.
- State Sec: the Dhikar. They are also slightly beneficient, as the majority of them are normal, but the few that aren't normal are in power.
- Story Arc: Nathan's marriage and life just pulls along the tale of just how terrible this soceity is.
- Tsundere: Yronae. Sometimes she can't control herself, other times she's colder than ice.