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What is love like when the participants are each over five hundred Earth years old? Will it still be as intense? Is it even possible after so long, or has everyone become so jaded that no one feels anything any more? Is romance even possible in a society without power and dominance, or will every woman always have a yearning for something missing?

In a society where violence has been impossible for nearly five thousand Earth years, everything from architecture to religion has been touched by the change. How will that society function if that security is taken away? If others can do violence to them and they can not do violence in return, how will they defend themselves and their society?

Why should the powerful people of the Empire allow the most ancient and populous world to remain primitive and poor when they have the technology and the drive to modernize it? Who could oppose them, and how?

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