"He is not your son. You owe his family no allegiance. No one, as yet, has paid you to find him. Why are you willing to risk your life?"
"I gave my word."
|First edition, cover by Kelly Freas depicting|
title character Jondelle and the Melevganians
burning down his foster parents' farm and
murdering their employees
The tenth Dumarest book, first published by DAW in 1973, finds our hero Earl Dumarest on the planet Ourelle in the labyrinthine city of Sargone. He gets lost while looking for the museum (Dumarest and I are like two peas in a pod, always eager to go to the museum to see the antiquities) and rescues a guy, Elray, and his adopted six-year-old son, Jondelle, from three armor-clad creeps. A veteran of the gladiatorial arena who always has his long knife with him, Dumarest makes short work of these jokers, but he does get shot by a laser pistol in the process.
Dumarest is nursed back to health by the boy's mother, Makgar, a doctor, at her farm house in the country. Dumarest is irresistible to women, and his manliness is doubly attractive to Makgar because her husband, Elray, is one of those pacifists who eschews violence. When the next batch of armored freakos attacks the farm Elray refuses to shoot at them, so Dumarest and Makgar (in her nightgown!) have to battle them without his help. Elray, Makgar, and many of the farmhands get killed, Jondelle gets kidnapped, and we readers get an object lesson in the right and responsibility of a man to defend himself and those who depend on him, courtesy of Edwin Charles Tubb: "Elray could have climbed to an upper room, picked off the invaders as they stood before the fires, shot them down as they tried to climb the stairs. Had he acted, the boy would be safe and the woman unharmed." (For an opposing point of view, see Davis Grubb's "The Baby-Sitter.")
|Advertising copy on the first page of my copy of |
the Mayenne/Jondelle omnibus
The survivors of the dangerous expedition to Melevgan, following the info learned in the mine, journey to another part of Ourelle to rescue Jondelle from his kidnapper. Chillingly (or nauseatingly), Jondelle is captive in a sort of brothel! To our relief, it turns out the brothel owner is just holding Jondelle for ransom. In the last few pages of the book (you've read our spoiler policy, right?) Dumarest hands Jondelle over to his blonde and blue-eyed grandparents. Jondelle is the product of "a hundred generations" of inbreeding for specific traits; Makgar was not his genetic mother, but a surrogate mother who fled across the galaxy with the baby because, as grandma puts it, "'she couldn't bear to part with him...the normal reaction of any woman toward the child of her body.'" The grandparents have been searching for little Jondelle for six years. In gratitude to Dumarest, they give him a clue to Earth's whereabouts. Finally, some progress!
Most importantly, this is a great fast-paced adventure novel, full of action, human drama, and weird SF settings, devices and people. E. C. Tubb is a master of this kind of writing, and this volume of the series is a great example of his ability. Thumbs up for Jondelle and on to Zenya, Dumarest #11!!