This is a novel in the long running humanx series that came out in the 80's and early 90's. This book is the first in an intended trilogy that explores the founding of the human/thranx Commonwealth, the interspecies alliance that forms in the face of threats of antagonistic aliens.
This first novel covers the actions of one member of either species: a human crook and a thranx poet. Both are on the run as a result of crimes committed in the pursuit of their dreams (independent wealth, power, and prestige in the case of the former; fame, recognition, and a release from the confines of society for the latter).
The story hinges, for the most part, on getting the two characters together. When they do, there's not as much story development as one might expect; it's rather a throw-back to early sci-fi in which the ideas being explored matter more than the story. It's not until near the end that things pick up a bit, and the very finale is a little flat, but this story certainly lays the foundation for any upcoming stories.