I'm looking for a novel I read in English around 1989 or 1990. I think it was written in the 80s. It was a rather thick (for the time) mass-market paperback and I think it had a picture of a guy reaching for a dagger or a crystal (or maybe a dagger encased in crystal) on the cover.
In the novel, humans have abandoned earth thousands of years prior to the events of the novel due to pollution or depletion of resources and live in living habitats in space.
From what I remember, whatever you wanted, whether a huge city or a space ship, you would get a seed designed by some secretive order, which you would then "feed" with enough matter and it would grow into whatever you had it designed for. Matter is scarce and for some reason planets and moons were not being used, can't remember why.
A lot of the action took place on a living space ship and the main character had a sentient computer that either was a big cat (cheetah or jaguar or something) or was embedded in the body of one.
There was also a war going on over the asteroid belt and someone had come up with some kind of engineered creatures or virus or something that could kill the living space ships and habitats.
I think the main character was male and there was also a female character with him on the ship who was the daughter of some local king or diplomat who I think was running away from an arranged marriage.
For some reason they were trying to reach earth. I can't remember if they were going to hide there or were looking for a cure for a virus or a weapon or what.
I remember bits, but not the whole plot, and would really like to read it again.