It functions mostly, but definitely not exclusively, as a sequel to Agent of Change. Miri Robertson and Val Con land on Vandar, an interdicted planet, and walk to a village where they use basic gestures to exchange work for food and a place to stay. They (mostly Val Con, but eventually Miri as well) pick up Benish, the local language (and you know, I could totes believe I'm spelling something wrong here). After a while, their benefactor, Estra Trelu, takes them into town for new/warm clothes, and there Val Con hooks up with a musician, Hakan and they learn there is a piano-like instrument in a locked room at the Trelu house that can be tuned. Hakan and Val Con practice in order to compete at the upcoming Winterfair.
Meanwhile, the turtles have made it to the top of the Juntavas hierarchy. Predictably, they wind up killing the guy at the top, and the next person at the top turns out to be willing to make a Real Different Deal with the Clutch, thus taking the pressure off Miri, Val Con and the turtles, at least from that one threat.
However, one enemy is replaced by another. Nova attempts to understand the Department of the Interior, which has apparently been behind multiple generations of attacks on Clan Korval and has just sent an agent after Val Con and Miri. Nova's efforts trigger a direct attack on Korval's clanhouses. Korval sees this coming, in part because of communication between Miri/Val Con and Priscilla/Shan and gets everyone off planet except the elder Dea'Gauss and Anthora. Anthora deals really effectively with the attackers from the Interior.
We get to see the Interior at work, as the agent is sent off to deal with Val Con and Miri, and also as the Interior attempts to grab the Scout who was checking interdicted planets and found the ship abandoned by Val Con and Miri. Clonak has a cameo in that segment, with a cliffhanger ending.
At the end of the book (I DID MENTION SPOILERS. I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER DOING SO.), Val Con and Miri are in the Dept of the Interior's Agent's ship, since He Won't Be Needing It Any More. So that's pretty cool. But there are more books in this arc, so I feel confident that Lee and Miller will have an opportunity to annoy me by killing off more people they have offered up for me to feel affection for.
ETA : things I left out. Val Con, Hakan and Miri, were robbed, I TELL YOU ROBBED, at the Winterfair music competition. Also, the trio prior to that gets all kinds of awards and gifts and shit because they foil a dastardly invasion at great personal risk. Further, Val Con has another Loop/brainwashing induced crisis, Miri once again helps him out with it, and as a result, their Lifemate psychic connection is greatly strengthened. Shan turns out to be a wizard too! Etc.