Star Gate (1958) is a standalone SF novel. Almost five centuries past, Terrans had landed their ships on Gorth. The Terrans were a long-lived breed, some having lived from before the first coming. But the Terrans produced few offsprings. Even when they bred with the Gorthians, few children were born.
Now the Terrans have determined that their presence was not good for the natives and decided to depart Gorth. The summons had gone out to all Terrans and their offspring to gather at the ships. But some did not want to venture into space, so they devised a way to cross timelines.
In this novel, Kincar s'Rud is Daughter's Son and heir by blood to Styr's Holding. Yet his uncle Jord s'Wurd opposed Kincar's inheritance of the lands. With the departure of the Terran Star Lords, Wurd conceived of another destiny for his daughter's son that would not result in kin war within the Holding.
Wurd bestows upon Kincar a scale shirt, sword and surcoat of finest make, but he also directs the boy to leave the Holding before he takes his last breath. He has Regen -- his guardsman -- dress Kincar in the finery and take him down to the courtyard where his mount is ready for travel. Kincar seats himself on Cim -- the pick of the Holding's larngs -- and whistles for his mord Vorken, then leaves for the pass to the northeast with Vorken flying overhead.
At his first stop, Kincar takes inventory of his possessions. Regen has provided all the equipment and supplies necessary for his journey. Yet he has also packed a surprise: a Tie. This gem is dedicated to the Three and holds great powers. Jord might gain the Holding, but Kincar has Wurd's full trust.
In his journey, Kincar comes upon a camp with six travelers. Three are women, which is very unusual in this wasteland. As he is observing the camp, Vorken gives a startling scream and the sound of a hand drum blares forth. A seventh traveler dashes up and the others mount their larngs. The women ride onward, with one man as guardian, and the other men wait for the returning rider.
When ragged outlaws attack the travelers, Kincar dashes down the slope with his sword ready. Vorken gets the first strike, sending one outlaw down clutching his head. Kincar takes down another outlaw and then loses himself in the battle.
After the outlaws flee, Kincar learns that the large man dressed in silver is Dillan and the other two are Jonathal s'Kinston and Vulth s'Marc. Kincar suspects that Dillan is a Star Lord, but the man is hidden behind his travel mask and encompassing clothes. Dillan asks Kincar's name and repeats "s'Rud" with a strange intonation.
In this story, Kincar follows the other seven through the wasteland to a deep valley. There they find more travelers and mounts, as well as a couple of blue pillars with a shimmering web suspended between them. He observes a Star Lord and a Gorthian lead strings of larng between the pillars and disappear in a surround of rainbow lines. Then comes his turn.
Kincar finds himself is a dead vale, with another set of blue pillars standing about a half mile ahead. After all the party pass through the first gate, the Star Lords destroy the shimmering web. Then all ride to the next set of pillars and go through to a living, but cold world.
Kincar experiences pain from the Tie when he enters the first valley and then each time he passes through a gate. He rides in a daze to a deserted fortress in the mountains. After unloading, grooming and feeding Cim, Kincar feeds Vorken, lies down by his mount and falls asleep.
This story tells of the experiences of the refugees in a new version of Gorth. Obviously this world has been inhabited by a native species, so they decide to try again for an unoccupied world. But the Terrans discover that copies of themselves have taken this Gorth by force and Have enslaved most of the population. Now none of the Terrans will leave until they free the natives from their oppressors.
This tale is an early work by the author, but includes the typical mix of action and mystery that invests her stories. This work is science fiction, but has many similarities to her later Witch World stories. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Norton fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of far planets, alien cultures, and high adventure.
-Arthur W. Jordin