The Long Twilight (1969) is a standalone short SF novel. It starts in the far past and carries through to the near future.
Captain-Lieutenant Gralgrathor is stranded on Terra far in the past. He is captured by primitives and carried to their home on a sailing ship. In a fight with their leader, Gralgrathor is the winner and is accepted into the tribe.
Over the years, Gralgrathor becomes the leader of the tribe and takes a wife. Then Commander Lokrien disobeys orders to rescue him. Lokrien takes Gralgrathor to his ship and asks if he is ready to leave.
Gralgrathor states that he is not willing to leave his wife and child. After more discussion, Gralgrathor goes for a walk to think about the offer and returns to find his family dead and Lokrien gone. He vows vengeance upon Lokrien.
In this novel, many centuries have passed. Grayle has been imprisoned for murder. He has been a model prisoner for many years, but then he runs amok and is transferred to another prison. On the way, he escapes by extraordinary feats of strength and agility.
Grayle acquires a companion during his escape. Anne Rogers came to live near the prison after her brother was confined there. Her brother died a few months ago, but she is still living nearby. She volunteers to drive him out of the area.
Falconer is living in Princeton. At an all-night diner, he hires John Zabisky -- a cab driver -- to drive his car. Although the new man is unaware of the purpose, they set out on a search for a lost spaceship. When they are stopped by a military cordon, Falconer steals a half track and continues cross country.
Grayle and Falconer converge on the buried spaceship. Xix is hidden by a pile of rocks, but is still partially functional. Xix considers Gralgrathor to be a traitor and wants to kill him, but Lokrien forbids the ship to execute Gralgrathor.
In this story, the government has built a prototype of a beamed power station. The media and VIPs are present for the switchover of several governmental facilities and public utilities to the new power system. After the station is functioning, the technical staff start monitoring its efficiency. They find losses in the system.
Meteorologists on the weather satellite notice an anomalous formation centered west of Somerset Island in the Bermudas. Despite being located in a high pressure area, it is now three miles wide and steadily growing larger. It swallows a thirty-five foot cabin cruiser and then sucks in a Navy plane.
The technicians at the beamed power station detect two unauthorized drains on the system. One is located in the nearby mountains, but the major drain is dead center on the huge conical weather pattern off the Bermudas.
This tale is an adventure through time. Gralgrathor was probably stranded among the ancestors of the Norse clans. Lokrien seems to have come looking for his lost comrade several decades later. The conflict between these two was eventually incorporated into Norse mythology.
The novel is thematically similar to A Trace of Memory and other works by the author, but has a very different ending. Gralgrathor and Lokrien are warriors from an ancient galactic civilization. They fight against each other for more than a millennium and now face one another for the last time.
This novel is not among the best works of the author. Yet it is a very interesting story. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Laumer fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of close combat, delayed vengeance and personal charisma.
-Arthur W. Jordin