Boy, does time and memory play tricks on you. But I have enjoyed re-reading this young people's story from Gordon Dickson(even though he has an error about Hawaii). It is multi-layered and introduces a number of concepts later picked up in broadcast Sci-Fi shows. The rodent-like fellow is from a heavy-gravity world and is much stronger than he looks. His Neo-Taylorite sect does not really mention religion, but it is supposed to be peaceful and about doing good. One of the young male humans is an "Archaist" who emphasizes Earth history and desires to learn all about the aliens in hope of defeating them in the future. The young woman is a thoughtful socio-anthropologist. The protagonist male human is a logic minded tech guy. They are stranded on a less developed alien world by an apparent spaceship malfunction. The three races of the planet Quebahr are the humanoid craftsmen Maureg, the physically tough kangaroo-like Walat, and the scientifically minded lizard Noif(not sharks!). Many of these ideas were played out in the Andromeda series. The alien federation follows a Star Trek-like "Prime Directive" although it is not formally stated. They see the value in allowing cultures to discover and learn things for themselves rather than by receiving gifts as if "from the gods". Interesting.