The Winds of Gath was originally released in 1967, the first in the Dumarest of Terra series. It has many of the hallmarks of classic space opera — worlds ruled by a single monarchy, simple (albeit pricey) travel between the stars, creatures that can be used to assassinate others, shadowy organizations, and a super-competent hero as comfortable with solving a mystery as with fighting for his life.
One thing that did strike me as odd when compared to more recent fiction was the early lack of an over-arching goal for Dumarest: When the book begins, he is presented as simply a Traveler, one who takes passage between worlds to random destinations, merely to see new places and get new experiences. He inadvertently winds up on Gath, a world where it’s hard for Travelers to earn enough to get themselves off-world again, and so he develops an immediate goal. Once he has the means to do so, however, he stays on Gath for no reason that is spelled out — for the experience of the wind storm that can affect people’s minds? That’s the best guess I had. It’s not until we near the end of the book that we discover he does have an over-arching goal, to get back to Earth, a world most people don’t even know exists.
Both the world of Gath and the larger environment humans live in — complete with dangers, mores, and customs — are well constructed. Tubb does a good job at drawing in the lines of politics, both within a world and across worlds, and most of the characters aside from Dumarest himself seem to have clear motivations.
Although this book can be read on its own, but I will be seeking out the other books in the series to see how Dumarest proceeds from this point, whether the politics and conspiracies shown in this book play a deeper role, and discover whether Dumarest does indeed manage to get back to Earth.
Disclosure: I received a free audio copy of this book in return for an honest review