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Lilth: A Snake in the Grass

The Four Lords of the Diamond: Book 1

Jack L. Chalker

The Confederacy, a massive space empire, duplicates the personality of its best agent and implants it into four brain-dead hosts. These hosts are sent to the four planets of a penal colony, the Warden Diamond, to investigate an alien threat and assassinate the four lords of the planets, the "Four Lords of the Diamond." The original agent is on a picket ship and downloads information from his copies.

A copy of the agent wakes up in the body of "Cal Tremon," a criminal on a prison ship heading to Lilith. He must then adapt to Lilith, a beautiful tropical world where its Warden Organism, a symbiotic microorganism, destroys all non-Lilith material, making modernization very difficult. Thus, the several million inhabitants of Lilith's feudal society are serfs. The nobility of Lilith are the few who can control the organisms.

The agent thus finds himself a serf, with no hope of advancing unless he harnesses the power of the Warden Organisms. When a girl he liked was being taken away for experimentation, he taps into his Warden powers and kills the overseer, a petty tyrant.

While living in the Castle, the residence of the Duke, Cal gains some initial training and knowledge. He escapes when he learns that the nobles plan to kill him. Outside of the castle walls, he gains a secure status in Lilith's society and no longer desires to serve the Confederacy.

Instead, he realizes that the Lord of Lilith, Marek Kreegan, a former Assassin of the Confederacy, cooperates with the aliens to preserve peace and order. Cal learns that Kreegan dissuaded the aliens from a genocide against humanity, choosing the slower course of subversion and sabotage instead. Cal does not kill Kreegan. His girlfriend, believing that Kreegan's death would will elevate Cal to Lordship, kills Kreegan by using a potion to draw on Cal's power.

The Agent wakes up in the picket ship, worried about his duplicate's behavior in Lilith.

Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold

The Four Lords of the Diamond: Book 2

Jack L. Chalker

"He" wakes up on a prison ship, and discovers that "he" is a copy. But he receives another shock, as he discovers that he is in a woman's body, a criminal named Qwin Zhang, who was mindwiped so that his recording could be inserted. He quickly learns that this is not an insurmountable problem, as the Warden powers on this planet are such that everyone has them, but it manifests itself as body swapping, a process that occurs when both parties are asleep. The Warden Organisms exchange information pertaining to memories and personality, so that if given sufficient time, the two sleepers will fully exchange bodies. The agent arranges to sleep next to a male during the newcomer orientation, and so has a male body again. He also learns that Cerberus is covered completely in water, with the only "land" being the tops of underwater trees that grow tall enough to extend beyond the water's surface.

Given that Cerberus is a world of white collar criminals, and that their technology is 20 years behind the times, "Qwin" can do quite well, and quickly establishes himself as "president" of a minor subsidiary of a large company. He does this with the help of Dylan Kohl, a boat captain, and Sanda Tyne, a host mother. Host mothering is an important profession, as the body swapping allows for people to live forever, so long as there are enough new bodies to swap with.

After a series of improbable adventures that gain him the position of company president, he attempts to carry out his mission of assassinating Wagant Laroo, the Lord of Cerberus. In the process of this, he comes across Dr. Dumonia, a psychologist who is later revealed to be a part-time Confederacy agent, though not especially loyal at all times. Qwin also learns that the human imitatingrobots are given human minds on Cerberus, specifically on Wagant's island. With the help of his friends, he manages to get on that island, and even arranges to come up with the solution to a problem of Wagant's.

The problem Wagant had was that the robots are better in every way, and nearly immortal and invulnerable. But Wagant does not want to put his mind into one, as the aliens who provide the robots have hidden commands in them that make the person the slave of the aliens. Not being able to get rid of those commands, Wagant accepts Qwin's help in getting rid of those commands. Qwin does so by asking his over-Agent in the picket ship to do so, which not only gets him in good with Wagant, but lets the Confederacy have a sample of the robot body and brain for examination.

Wagant, while very untrusting of Qwin, does eventually transfer his mind into the body of a "cleared" robot. What Wagant doesn't realize is that it wasn't quite fully cleared, and when Qwin recites a Lewis Carroll poem in front of him, it places Wagant under Qwin's complete control. Thus assassination is not necessary, as Qwin and Dumonia are in effect the rulers of Cerberus.

The book closes with the Agent in the picket ship feeling more concerned, as he saw himself change again, this time putting other people above his own needs and mission. This increases his turmoil and soul searching.

Charon: A Dragon at the Gate

The Four Lords of the Diamond: Book 3

Jack L. Chalker

"He" wakes up on a prison ship, and discovers that "he" is a copy. He learns that he is in the body of a notorious killer of women named "Park Lacoch", and that he is very short. At the orientation on Charon, a hot and steamy world of jungles and deserts, he learns that magic works. Magic here means that some individuals can sense, and learn to control, the Warden organism that pervades everything and everyone. It is possible to fool the Wardens into believing they are something else, such as converting a fruit juice to poison, or changing a person into an animal. One's status depends a lot on how much of the power one can learn to use.

Park is singled out early, during the placement interviews the newcomers are getting. He is told that the leadership of the planet is aware that there is a Confederacy Assassin planted on Charon to kill the Lord of Charon, Aeolia Matuze. The agent "Park" is well aware of this, as he is that very agent, just arrived. Fortunately for him, the security interviewer is under the impression that Park's new girlfriend, Zala, is the Assassin, as she has a genetically created double mind.

Park is assigned as a Town Accountant to a town where the authorities believe he will be contacted by a well-organized group of revolutionaries seeking to re-install a former Lord of Charon that Aeolia displaced. After a series of adventures, Park gains much control over the power, and with Zala (aka Kira) and his new girlfriend Darva, assists in an attack on the palace where Aeolia Matuze resides. This attack is a coordinated one, coinciding with the overthrow of the government everywhere, and prompted by Dr. Dumonia of Cerberus, a Confederate plant with many agendas.

The attack is successful, but the former Lord of Charon cannot go through with killing Aeolia, who was his ex-wife that he still had feelings for. Aeolia, not as sentimental, kills him. When it seems that all is lost, Kira kills Aeolia, with the tacit approval of Aeolia's Chief of Security, Yatek Morah, who as it turns out, is really in the employ of the aliens. Yatek having no love for the late Aeolia, is willing to discuss matters with Park, and there is the implication that Park will have a chance to become the new Lord of Charon.

The book closes with the Agent in the picket ship being even more affected by this latest experience. He more than ever questions the values and efficacy of the Confederacy, and wishes to delay making a final report because he fears what his government's response will be. The computer shows that it is more than merely an assistant or partner, by nearly overriding him, and almost not letting him out of the capsule. "Mr. Carroll" manages to convince the computer that he will return, and only wishes to gather the final report from Medusa before making his report to the Confederacy.

Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail

The Four Lords of the Diamond: Book 4

Jack L. Chalker

He wakes up on the prison ship and realizes that "he" is a copy. He is in the body of a 13 year old boy named Tarin Bul, a boy who had killed the man who killed his father. The boy had his mind wiped and the Agent's mind placed in it. The ship is taking him to Medusa, the farthest out of the Diamond worlds, and the coldest. At the newcomer orientation, he learns that technology works just fine on Medusa, and due to the Warden powers, all people infected can adapt to the extreme cold automatically. It is not revealed to him that the adaptive ability is quite comprehensive, and with proper sensitization to the Wardens, one could become almost any life form.

It is a totalitarian society, one headed by Talant Ypsir, who has helped perfect a system of complete surveillance of nearly all parts of the cities of the planets, overseen by The Monitor Service, who are the both the police and secret police. Given his age, he is hampered in his drive for social mobility, as it will be some years before he is old enough for any real job. He is paired with a girl and assigned a communal apartment unit.

He achieves some degree of progress when The Monitor Service calls him in and it is proposed that he be an informer. TMS plans to give him a promotion that will put him in the position of being recruited by an underground group of revolutionaries who wish to overthrow the system, and who may be in league with other such groups on other Diamond worlds. "Tarin" agrees to do this, though his sympathies already lie with the revolutionaries, and he still intends to complete his mission of assassinating the Lord of Medusa.