” is a novel
written by Poul Anderson
. Written in 1966, we are introduced to Dominic Flandry
as a 19-year-old ensign in the Imperial Naval Flight Corps who finds himself assigned to the planet Starkad
. Starkad is inhabited by two sentient species
--the aquatic Zletovar
and the land-borne Tigeries
The Terran Empire at this time consists of almost 4 million systems and the Merseian Empire is as large and growing faster. The conflict between the ancient human empire and the new, vibrant empire of the Merseians has not escalated to open warfare, but hostilities exist. Starkad has become a pawn in the Merseian-Human conflict.
Flandry’s plane is shot down over a Starkad ocean and a Tigeries ship rescues him. The Zletovar attack the ship and Flandry helps the Tigeries defeat them. Flandry notes during the attack that the Zletovar have been provided with advanced Merseian naval technology, and realizes that Starkad has become a pawn in the conflict between the alien Merseians and Imperial Earth. His part in saving the Tigeries ship earns him the respect of the Tigeries, and of Commander Abrams, the human chief of intelligence on Starkad.
Abrams assigns Flandry to a mission to assist the Zletovar. Journeying to their underwater kingdom he learns that theirs is a rich and cultured civilization not inclined to warfare. Clearly the Merseians for reasons not yet known have incited them to conflict with the Tigeries.
On his next mission he is promoted to an intelligence officer assigned to a diplomatic team heading to the Merseian homeworld. There along with Commander Abrams and Lord Hauksberg, the Terran Empires ambassador to Starkad, he attempts to figure what the Merseians really want with Starkad, which in itself holds no military or resource value.
In the Polesotechnic League continuity the next novel to feature Dominic Flandry is “A Circus of Hells”.