Derai: Dumarest of Terra No. 2 Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1982
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Or if it doesn't start with a dame, there's a dame involved somewhere.
In this case case, the dame is named Derai, and she is on Kyle, after running away from her family, because she's afraid of everything. Dumarest is given the gig of escorting her back to her homeworld of Hive, where she is a member of the House of Caldor, one of the ruling families of Hive. On the trip to Hive, Dumarest watches Derai clean out a professional gambler. He intuits that she is a bona fide telepath, and he decides that her survival is best asisted by paying off the gambler. She naturally falls in love with Dumarest; Dumarest, though, is a man with a mission, finding Earth.
Dumarest has his own reasons for travelling to Hive; he's been told that someone on Hive knows something about the mythical world of Earth, a world where Dumarest was born.
But there are intrigues in Derai's family, and the sneaky, dastardly Cyclan are involved with their own agenda. The schemes pull Dumarest back in and induce him to travel with the chiefs of the House of Caldor, and with Derai, to the planet Folgone, where men risk their lives in a deadly competition to run a gauntlet to qualify as one of the few winners, otherwise, they are locked into the playing zone where they starve to death. If they win, they - or the wealthy person who pays for their participation - get planted into a pod where they are slowly absorbed while enjoying glorious hallucinations. In this universe, that's what qualifies as "La Dolce Vita."
As with most of Dumarest's world, you have to marvel at (a) its wanton cruelty and (b) its mysterious economics. After all, wouldn't the City Fathers of planet Folgone, or whoever runs the place, figure out that more people might pay to join in the tournament if they weren't promised certain death if they lost? Whatever the answer, Dumarest's world is a cruel, cruel reality.
Needless to say, Dumarest enters the tournament, and, then, he decides that he loves Derai. Will he marry the girl and accept a place as heir apparent to one of the wealthy clans of Hive? Will he give up his lonely quest through a cruel and uncaring universe to find his lost homeworld?
The only hint you'll get from me is that this is Dumarest of Terra #2 and there are another 31 books to go in the series.
Read the book. It's filled with cliches, but it is fun as a "throwback" to a time when men were men and lived by their own rules in a callous, indifferent universe, and only occasionally fell for the dames.
I have read several books in this series and they all have met or exceeded my criteria for a entertaining science fiction novel: logical plot progression, credible characters development, modest reliance of "super-science" rabbit out of the hat plot resolutions, an admirable central character, imaginative future societies, and respect for the readers intelligence. Author Tubb has worked these Dumarest stories since 1967 and we are told there is still more to come. If this is your introduction to the Sage welcome aboard.
In "Derai" Earl Dumarest is persuade, for a fee payable on delivery, to "baby-sit" a young lady on a space voyage to her home planet. The woman in question, Derai, is the heir to one of the ruling houses on the planet Hive. Derai, in addition to being emotionally fragile has very rare telepathic talents that attract the attention of the conspiratorial Cyclan. Dumarest becomes emotionally involved Derai and must contend with her dysfunctional family.
There is a real problem with the Dumarest Saga. None of the books are "in print" and if fact the last US mass market printing of a Dumarest paperback was in 1984 - "The Temple of Truth - Dumarest #31. Prior books in the series date back to 1967 with Dumarest #1 "The Winds of Gath". It is unlikely these books will be reissued any time soon, if ever. Even if they were I doubt they would reprint the wonderful Ace and DAW edition cover art. Thankfully we have the Internet and sites like Amazon were you could find these books up for resale. Your efforts will be rewarded with the acquiring of some of the most enjoyable SF books ever written.
I recommend picking them up in order, though the books can be enjoyed in any order. They are designed in the anthology format -- just as the original Star Trek episodes were.
The story of DERAI is -- except for the ending -- a modern day Science Fiction Romance in a galactic setting.
Dumarest is human. The Worlds of this star-spanning galactic civilization are peopled (mostly) by humans -- living on alien worlds with dangerous flora and fauna. Since Dumarest must remain free of personal encumbrance to travel (as did Kirk in Star Trek), Dumarest's entanglement with Derai has to be severed at the end of the book -- but E. C. Tubb doesn't kill her off. So this novel departs from Romance at the end -- but all the elements currently being explored in modern Mixed Genre are present.
Dumarest is traveling the galaxy searching for Earth, the planet of his birth, and working at various "dirty jobs" as he goes. This time he's an armed escort for Derai, a "princess" who is a formidable woman in her own right. Both characters earn the reader's respect.
Many gamers attribute the game TRAVELER's success to having roots in the Dumarest of Terra saga.
The Audible reading of this series is a solid acting performance of all the roles in this novel. The reader effortlessly gives each character an Identity you can hear and visualize.
Note the writer does switch point of view a lot, but uses the cinematic conventions so smoothly that you never miss a beat at the POV switches. Few modern writers have that knack down pat. The trick is to follow the plot, to follow the story, wherever it goes, and reading E. C. Tubb novels can teach a writer to do that. This is textbook perfect writing.
If you are a fan of the Sime~Gen Series of novels, and other Jacqueline Lichtenberg universes, you will find bits and pieces of Dumarest and other E. C. Tubb universes in Lichtenberg's work.