Review of The Winds of Gath

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