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Beast Master's Planet: The Beast Master / Lord of Thunder
     

Beast Master's Planet: The Beast Master / Lord of Thunder

4.5 24
by Andre Norton
 

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When first published, The Beast Master was a new kind of science fiction adventure, featuring a Native American (Navajo) protagonist, Hosteen Storm, a soldier with a unique team—animals with whom he has a telepathic mind-link.

The time is the future, when Earth has been devastated by interstellar war with the alien Xik. Storm is now on the planet

Overview

When first published, The Beast Master was a new kind of science fiction adventure, featuring a Native American (Navajo) protagonist, Hosteen Storm, a soldier with a unique team—animals with whom he has a telepathic mind-link.

The time is the future, when Earth has been devastated by interstellar war with the alien Xik. Storm is now on the planet Arzor. Once the home of an ancient, long-dead alien civilization, it is now inhabited by human colonists and the indigenous Norbies. Storm and the other Arzorites must fight the Xik, who are intent on to destroying all life but their own. With rousing action and Norton's unique ability to evoke the strangeness and mystery of ancient alien civilizations, The Beast Master, and its sequel, Lord of Thunder remain fresh and enthralling, a half-century after their debut.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Andre Norton's Beast Master's Planet: A Beast Master's Omnibus collects two classic SF novels by the late SFWA Grand Master: The Beast Master (1959), which introduced Navajo scout Hosteen Storm, and its sequel, Lord of Thunder (1962). Agent, Jacky Byrne at Sternig and Byrne. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
New York Times
"A compelling and compassionate tale."
Chicago Tribune
"Dramatic, logical and swift….Good science-fiction."
New York Herald Tribune
"Exciting adventure conceived with splendid imagination."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Andre Norton has created an air of mystery and suspense which captivates and holds the reader until the final pages."
Cleveland Press
"Another jewel in the dazzling crown of the queen of outer space."
Columbus Dispatch
"A brilliant writer…a fascinating story…a dramatic and intense book."
American Book Collector
"Storm's further adventures only to serve to point out once again that Andre Norton is right at home with the top-ranking science-fiction authors."
Astounding Science Fiction
Again Andre Norton proves that she can write just about the best far-worlds-adventure stories anyone is doing nowadays. They have color; they have action; they have mystery....

— P. Schuyler Miller

Springfield Republican
"Thrilling science-fiction."
From the Publisher
"Andre Norton has created an air of mystery and suspense which captivates and holds the reader until the final pages."

San Francisco Chronicle on The Beast Master

"A compelling and compassionate tale."

New York Times on The Beast Master

"Again Andre Norton proves that she can write just about the best far-worlds-adventure stories anyone is doing nowadays. They have color; they have action; they have mystery; they have the 'sense of wonder' that some people would contend is out of place in Twentieth Century writing; and they are so well-written that every detail is convincing. The basic theme of The Beast Master is a grand one, and I hope we haven't heard the last of Hosteen Storm and his team."

—P. Schuyler Miller of Astounding Science Fiction on The Beast Master

"Another jewel in the dazzling crown of the queen of outer space."

Cleveland Press on The Beast Master

"A brilliant writer...a fascinating story...a dramatic and intense book."

Columbus Dispatch on The Beast Master

"Exciting adventure conceived with splendid imagination."

New York Herald Tribune on The Beast Master

"Thrilling science-fiction."

Springfield Republican on Lord of Thunder

"Lord Of Thunder is Andre Norton's latest novel. She has been thrilling the readers for more years now than some of us would care to admit. This delightful book journals the adventures of Hosteen Storm, a Beast Master, and his two companions, an eagle and a cat. Storm's further adventures (we encountered him before in The Beast Master) only to serve to point out once again that Andre Norton is right at home with the top-ranking science-fiction authors."

American Book Collector on Lord of Thunder

"Dramatic, logical and swift....Good science-fiction."

Chicago Tribune on Lord of Thunder

Astounding Science Fiction - P. Schuyler Miller
"Again Andre Norton proves that she can write just about the best far-worlds-adventure stories anyone is doing nowadays. They have color; they have action; they have mystery...."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765325860
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Series:
Hosteen Storm Series
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
376,101
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beast Master's Planet

A Beast Master Omnibus


By Andre Norton, James Frenkel

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2005 Andre Norton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1327-0



CHAPTER 1

Sir, there is a transport leaving for that sector tomorrow. My papers are in order, are they not? I think I have all the necessary permits and endorsements —"

The young man who wore the green of a Galactic Commando, with the striking addition of a snarling lion's mask on the breast of his tunic, smiled with gentle detachment at the Commander.

That officer sighed inwardly. Why did they always dump these cases on his desk? He was a conscientious man, and now he was a troubled one. A fourth-generation Sirian colonist and a cosmopolite of mixed races by birth, he secretly believed that no one had fathomed this youngster — not even the psych-medics who had given the boy clearance. The Commander shuffled the papers and glanced down again at the top one, though he did not have to read the information on it, knowing it all by heart.

"Hosteen Storm. Rank: Beast Master. Race: Amerindian. Native planet: Terra of Sol —"

It was that concluding entry that made all the difference. The last desperate thrust of the Xik invaders had left Terra, the mother planet of the Confederacy, a deadly blue, radioactive cinder, and those here at the Separation Center had to deal with veterans of the forces now homeless —

All the land grants on other worlds, the assistance of every other planet in the Confederacy, would not wipe from the minds of these men the memory of a murdered people, the reality of their own broken lives. Some had gone mad here at the Center, turning in frantic rage on their allies from the colonial worlds. Or they had used their own deadly weapons on themselves and their fellows. Finally every Terran outfit had been forcibly disarmed. The Commander had witnessed some terrible and some heartbreaking sights here during the past months.

Of course Storm was a special case — as if they weren't all special cases. There had been only a handful of his kind. Less than fifty, the Commander understood, had qualified for the duty this young man had performed. And of that fifty very few had survived. That combination of unusual traits of mind that produced a true Beast Master was rare, and they had been expendable men in the last frenzied months before the spectacular collapse of the Xik invaders.

"My papers, sir." Again that reminder, delivered in the same gentle voice.

But the Commander dared not let himself be rushed. Storm had never shown any signs of violence — even when they had taken the chance, as a test, of giving him the package from Terra that had been delivered too late at his base after he had departed for his last mission. In fact, the youngster had cooperated in every way with the personnel of the Center, helping with others the medics believed could be saved. He had insisted upon retaining his animals. But that had caused no difficulty. The staff had watched him closely for months, prepared for some paralyzing stroke of delayed shock — for the outburst they were sure must come. But now the medics had reluctantly agreed they could not deny Storm's release.

Amerindian, pure blood. Maybe they were different, better able to stand up to such a blow. But in the Commander's mind a nagging little doubt festered. The boy was too controlled. Suppose they did let him go and there was a bad smash, involving others, later? Suppose — suppose —

"You have chosen to be repatriated on Arzor, I see." He made conversation, not wanting to dismiss the other.

"Survey records, sir, state that Arzor possesses a climate similar to my native country. The principal occupation is frawn herding. I have been assured by settlement officers that, as a qualified Beast Master, I may safely count on employment there —"

A simple, logical, and satisfactory answer. Why didn't he like it? The Commander sighed again. A hunch — he couldn't refuse this Terran his papers just on a hunch. But his hand moved slowly as he pushed the travel permit into the stamper before him. Storm took the slip from him and stood up, smiling aloofly — a smile the Commander was certain neither reached nor warmed his dark eyes.

"Thank you for your assistance, sir. I assure you it is appreciated." The Terran sketched a salute and left. And the Commander shook his head, still unconvinced that he had done the right thing.

Storm did not pause outside the building. He had been very confident of getting that exit stamp, so confident he had made his preparations in advance. His kit was already in the loading area of the transport. There remained his team, his true companions who did not probe, with the kindest of motives, or try to analyze his actions. It was enough that he was with them, and with them only was he able to feel normal again, not a specimen under clinical observation.

Hosteen Storm of the Dineh — the People, though men of a lighter shade of skin had given another name to his kinsmen, Navajo. They had been horsemen, artists in metal and wool, singers and desert dwellers, with a strong bond tying them to the barren but brightly colored land in which they had once roamed as nomad hunters, herders, and raiders.

The Terran exile shut away that memory as he came into the storehouse that had been assigned to him for his small, odd command. Storm closed the door, and there was a new alertness in his face.

"Saaaa —" That hiss, which was also a summons, was answered eagerly.

A flapping of wings and talons, which could tear flesh into bloody ribbons, closed on his padded left shoulder as the African Black Eagle that was scouting "eyes" for Sabotage Group Number Four came to rest, sleek head lowered to draw its beak in swift, slight caress along Storm's brown cheek.

Paws caught at his breeches as a snorting pair of small warm bodies swarmed up him, treating his body like a tree. Those claws, which uncovered and disrupted enemy installations, caught in the tough fabric of his uniform as he clasped the meerkats in his arms.

Baku, Ho, and Hing — and last of all — Surra. The eagle was majesty and winged might, great-hearted and regal as her falcon tendencies dictated. The meerkats were merry clowns, good-humored thieves who loved company. But Surra — Surra was an empress who drew homage as her due.

Generations before, her breed had been small, yellow-furred sprites in the sandy wastes of the big deserts. Shy cats, with hairy paws, which kept them from sinking into the soft sand of their hunting grounds, with pricked fox ears and fox-sharp faces, possessing the abnormal hearing that was their greatest gift, almost unknown to mankind, they had lived their hidden lives.

But when the Beast Service had been created — first to provide exploration teams for newly discovered worlds, where the instincts of once wild creatures were a greater aid to mankind than any machine of his own devising — Surra's ancestors had been studied, crossbred with other types, developed into something far different from their desert roving kin. Surra's color was still sand-yellow, her muzzle and ears foxlike, her paws fur sand-shoes. But she was four times the size of her remote fore-fathers, as large as a puma, and her intelligence was higher even than those who had bred her guessed. Now Storm laid his hand on her head, a caress she graciously permitted.

To the spectator the ex-Commando might be standing impassively, the meerkats clinging to him, his hand resting lightly on Surra's round skull, the eagle quiet on his shoulder. But an awareness, which was unuttered, unheard speech, linked him with animals and bird. The breadth of that communication could not be assessed outside a "team," but it forged them into a harmonious whole, which was a weapon if need be, a companionship always.

Baku raised her wide wings, moved restlessly to utter a small croak of protest. She disliked a cage and submitted to such confinement only when it was forced upon her. The thought Storm had given them of more ship travel displeased her. He hastened to supply a mental picture of the world awaiting them — mountains and valleys filled with the freedom of the true wilderness — all he had learned from the records here.

Baku's wings folded neatly once again. The meerkats chirruped happily to one another. As long as they were with the others, they did not care. Surra took longer to consider. She must wear collar and leash, restraints that could bring her to stubborn resistance. But perhaps Storm's mind-picture promised even more to her than it had to Baku. She padded across the room, to return holding the hated collar in her mouth, dragging its chain behind her.

"Yat-ta-hay —" Storm spoke softly as always, the sound of the old speech hardly more than a whisper. "Yat-ta-hay — very, very good!"

The troop ferry on which they shipped out was returning regiments, outfits, squads to several different home planets. That war, which had ended in defeat for the Xik invaders, had exhausted the Confederacy to a kind of weary emptiness, and men were on their way back to worlds that lay under yellow, blue, and red suns firm in the determination to court peace.

As Storm strapped himself down on his bunk for the take-off, awaiting the familiar squeeze, he heard Surra growl softly from her pad and turned his head to meet her yellow gaze. His mouth relaxed in a smile that this time did reach and warm his eyes.

"Not yet, runner on the sand!" He used again that tongue that now and forever hereafter must be a dead language. "We shall once more point the arrow, set up the prayer sticks, call upon the Old Ones and the Faraway Gods — not yet do we leave the war trail!"

Deep in his eyes, naked now that there was no one but the big cat to see, was the thing the Sirian Commander had sensed in him. The galaxy might lie at peace, but Hosteen Storm moved on to combat once again.

There was a company of Arzoran men on board, third- and fourth-generation descendants of off-world settlers. And Storm listened to the babble of their excited talk, filing away all the information that might be useful in the future. They were frontiersmen, these fighters from a three-quarter wilderness world. Their planet produced one product for export — frawns. Frawn meat and frawn-skin fabric, which had the sheen of fine silk and the water-repellent quality of ancient vegetable rubber, were making modest fortunes for the Arzor men.

The frawns moved in herds across the plains; their shimmering blue, heavily wooled foreparts and curving horned heads sloping sharply back to slender, almost naked hindquarters gave them a top-heavy look, which was deceitful since the frawn was well able to protect itself. There was no meat elsewhere in the galaxy to compare with frawn steak, no fabric to match that woven from their hair.

"I've two hundred squares cut out down on the Vakind — running straight back to the hills. Get me a crew of riders and we'll —" The fair-haired man Storm knew as Ransford held forth eagerly.

His bunk mate nodded. "Get Norbies. You don't lose any young stock with them riding herd. They'll take their pay in horses. Quade uses Norbies whenever he can get them —"

"Don't know about that," cut in a third of the Arzoran veterans. "I'd rather have regular riders. Norbies aren't like us —"

But Storm lost the thread of the conversation in the sudden excitement of his own thoughts. Quade was not a common name. In all his life he had only heard it once.

"Don't tell me you believe that blather about Norbies being hostile!" The second speaker had challenged the third sharply. "Me and m' brother always sign Norbies for the roundup, and we run the tightest outfit near the Peaks! Two of 'em are better at roundin' herd than any dozen riders I can sign up at the Crossin'. And I'll name names right out if you want me to —"

Ransford grinned. "Climb down off your spoutin' post, Dort. We all know how you Lancins feel about Norbies. And I'll agree with you about their bein' good trackers. But there has been trouble with stock disappearin'— as well you know."

"Sure. But nobody ever proved that Norbies made them disappear. Push anyone around and he'll try to loosen your teeth for you! Treat a Norbie decent and square, and he's the best backin' you can get in the outcountry. The Mountain Butchers aren't Norbies —"

"Mountain Butchers are herd thieves, aren't they?" Storm asked, hoping to steer the conversation back to Quade.

"That they are," Ransford returned pleasantly. "Say, you're the Beast Master who's signed up for settlement, aren't you? Well, if all the stories we've heard about your kind of trainin' are the straight goods, you'll be able to light and tie right off. Mountain Butchers are a problem in the back country. Start a stampede in the right stretch of land, and they can peel off enough young stock durin' it to set up in business. A man and his crew can't cover every bit of the range. That is why it pays to hire Norbies, they know the trails and the broken lands —"

"Where do the Mountain Butchers sell their stolen goods?" Storm asked.

Ransford frowned. "That's something every owner and rider, every frawn- protection man on the planet would like to know. There's just one space port, and nothin' passes through that without being checked double, sidewise and across. Unless there's some hidden port out in the hills and a freebooter runnin' cargo out — why, you've as good a guess as I have as to what they want the animals for. But they raid —"

"Or Norbies raid and then yell about outlaws when we ask pointed questions," the third Arzoran commented sourly.

Lancin bristled. "That isn't so, Balvin! Don't Quade hire Norbies — and the Basin country swings along by Brad Quade. He and his folks has held that district since First Ship time and they know Norbies! It'd take an eruption of the Limpiro Range to make Quade change his mind —"

Storm's gaze dropped to his own hands resting on the mess table — those brown, thin hands with the thread of an old scar across the back of the left one. They had not moved, nor could any of the three men sitting with him see that sudden change in his eyes. He had the answer he wanted. Brad Quade — this man of importance — whom he had come so far to meet. Brad Quade who had a blood debt to pay to other men on a world where life did not and could not exist, a debt Storm had come to collect. He had sworn an oath as a small and wondering boy, standing before a man of power and knowledge beyond that of other races calling themselves "civilized." A war had intervened, he had fought in it, and then he had journeyed halfway across the galaxy —

"Yat-ta-hay —" But he did not say that aloud. "Very, very good."

Immigration and custom inspection were only a formality for one with Storm's papers, though the Terran was an object of interest to the officers at the space port as he loosed his animals and Baku. Beast Team tales had been so exaggerated across deep space that Storm believed none of the port personnel would have been surprised if Surra had answered in human speech or Baku waved a stun ray in one taloned foot.

Men on Arzor went armed, though the lethal blaster and the needler were both outlawed. A stun ray rod hung from all adult male belts and private differences were settled speedily with those, or with one's fists — a custom Storm could understand. But the straggle of plasta-crete buildings about the space port was not the Arzor he wanted. The arch of sky overhead, with the tinge of mauve to give it an un-Terran shade, and the wind that swept down from the distant rust-red ripples of mountains hinted of the freedom he desired.

Surra held her head into that wind, her eyes slitted, and Baku's wings lifted a little at its promise. Then Storm halted, his head snapped around, his nostrils dilated as Surra's could. The scent borne on that wind — he was pulled by it, so strongly that he did not try to resist.

Frawn herds ranged widely, and men, who perhaps on the other worlds of their first origin had depended upon machines for transportation, found that the herder here must be otherwise equipped. Machines required expert tending, supply parts that had to be imported at astronomical prices from off-world. But there remained a self-perpetuating piece of equipment that the emigrants to the stars had long known at home, used, discarded for daily service, but preserved because of sentiment and love for sheer grace and beauty — the horse. And horses, imported experimentally, found the plains of Arzor a natural home. In three generations of man-time, they had spread wide, changing the whole economy of both settler and native.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Beast Master's Planet by Andre Norton, James Frenkel. Copyright © 2005 Andre Norton. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ANDRE NORTON, named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America, is one of the most famous and beloved creators of science fiction and fantasy adventure of all time. Author of more than one hundred novels and several hundred works of short fiction, Miss Norton entertained millions of readers with her exciting science fiction and fantasy since her debut in 1934 until her death in 2005. Her series, including Witch World, The Solar Queen, The Time Traders, Central Control, and Forerunner books, are the core of her long, successful career. Miss Norton died in 2005.

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Beast Master's Planet 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought the first of the pair of stories as my first book, sight unseen, based on Andre Norton's other work. I loved it then (1959) and still love it as one of her very best. The series has been carried on with the help of Lyn McConchie, but nothing beats the original Beast Master. Action, mystery, character, and struggles all suitable to teen, young adult, or adult. I give this as a prize to some of my high school students.
DCope More than 1 year ago
The Beast Master Books are an exceptional and fun read,  Highly reccommended regardless of age.
dragonryder More than 1 year ago
my old paperback copy has worn out from rereading - upgrading to digital
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Very good write, good color in pages
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And why pure pulp? Under two names