Toby Manders is a bored sixteen-year-old Earth immigrant to Hobson’s Planet who is tired of living the quiet life of a farmer. After running away from his father and home, he becomes close friends with Jar Kensch, a native Walber boy. He and Jar, who has family troubles of his own, get themselves entangled in the feud going on between the Earth immigrants and the Catonians, conquerors of Hobson’s Planet.
Can Toby resolve the trouble he and Jar get into, resolve his estrangement from his father and avoid the boring life he left behind?
Another bolt of light sliced through the forest but missed him by a good deal, and Toby relaxed. When the trees thinned out, Toby ran. He hoped the Catonians would think he was one of the farmers and armed. They would never follow him if they did. Another bolt of light sliced through the darkness well behind him.
When the trees thickened again, Toby angled toward the road, but kept to the trees. He didn't bother stopping as he passed the second farmhouse, but made a beeline toward New Town.
New Town, a row of buildings on each side of a hard-packed dirt street, stretched along the river for two blocks. Toby knew where he could find a raft, so he made his way through the darkness until he came out from behind the final building on the block. He saw a pair of Catonian soldiers patrolling and waited. When he thought they were far enough away, he scurried across the road and nestled in the grass which grew everywhere on the planet and here stretched down to the river's edge. He sat calming himself and listening for the soldiers. This running away was more strenuous than he'd imagined.
Finally, Toby scuttled to the water and searched along the river's edge for a raft. He found a small dilapidated one a short way up the riverbank. Toby crawled forward and put his shirt, shoes, and food bag onto the raft. Then he poked the raft into the easy current near the riverbank and began to drift. He was off. His adventure had begun.