Lallia (Dumarest #06) – EC Tubb (1971)
‘Dumarest continues his restless wandering – combing the spaceways for an ancient and almost forgotten planet called Earth.
Then, on a primitive world, he fights a giant mutant for the life of the lovely psychic Lallia – and wins a vital clue that lead him to the end of his quest…’
Blurb from the 1977 Arrow paperback edition
An odd bit of meandering on Tubb’s part here. The narrative rambles, unlike Dumarest, without purpose.
Dumarest is burgled and the robber found murdered. Dumarest escapes on a ship, getting the job of a handler, into the Web.
The Web is a tight cluster of suns where trading ship, rather like merchant vessels of old, travel from world to world, bartering their cargo for other costly produce.
On a primitive religious world the crew save the life of a woman condemned as a witch and take her on board. Lallia, for so she is called, picks up vibrations from objects and having touched Dumarest’s ring, is haunted by the pain and sadness of Kalin’s life.
Yulang, a fellow-traveller and trader in jewels, offers to buy the ring, but Dumarest consistently refuses.
The ship’s engineer, Claude, has a serious drink problem and the Captain has to deal with his phobia of looking at the stars by an addiction to an alien symbiote which sends him to a dream world while the ship is between worlds.
The ship travels to a few worlds and in most places there is human exploitation, misery and a preponderance of archaic feudal systems.
Just when it seems that Lallia and Dumarest are about to sail off out of the Web together, Dumarest gets involved in a fight with a caged mutant and wakes up back on the old ship. Claude, however, has been at the bottle and the generators are out of phase. The captain has to be awakened from his drugged sleep and they crash-land on the planet Shrine.
In most of these books there is a formulaic inevitability in that a plot or scheme (mostly, but not always involving the Cyclan) is revealed, someone close to Dumarest dies and Dumarest gets another clue as to the location of Earth.
Here, the steward from the ship, who was a bit of a mystic, tells Dumarest about the Dog Star and the Plow (sic) and to look for The Original People. Additionally, the remnant of an alien intelligence which crashed on Shrine shows Dumarest an overview of the galaxy and a brief glow of light where Earth is located.
It would be interesting to know if Tubb realised at this point that it would take at least another twenty-five books and about thirty years before the final chapter.