As the novel opens, Captain Pausert is thinking only about going home after having sold his trade goods. He happens to encounter a little girl, a slave in need of rescue. Before he knows what is happening, he has bought the girl, Maleen, and her two sisters, Goth and Leewit, from their respective owners, probably saving the owners from a fate worse than death.
As Pausert finds out soon after his departure, he has rescued three of the infamous Karres witches, apparently in control of an energy called klatha. Pausert discovers their powers when valuable objects mysteriously begin to appear on board his ship. Pursued by those objects’ furious owners, the witches have to use their magic to move the ship to safety. They do so with such speed that rumors of a new super drive begin to circulate.
Having dropped off the girls at their home planet and having been richly rewarded in unsalable trade goods, the captain returns home, only to be arrested. All contact with anything coming from Karres is prohibited, he is told. Pausert barely escapes, helped by Goth, who stowed away. She uses the Sheewash drive, which magically transports them to the other side of the empire, into areas of space Pausert knows only from legend.
They land on the planet of Uldune, assume false identities, and begin to refit and modernize the ship. The previously unappreciated cargo from Karres turns out to be a godsend, being virtually priceless. Because half the...
(The entire section is 555 words.)