The second book in the Planet of Adventure science fantasy series.

Publication year: 1969
Format: Audio
Running time for the whole series: 23 hours 3 minutes
Narrator: Elijah Alexander

The story starts pretty slowly and strangely. Adam Reith an Earth man, sent to planet Tschai because a distress signal came from there. However, shortly after Reith’s small boat entered the atmosphere, a missile shot down his mother ship. Alone, Reith has encountered the strange human tribes and alien species on the plant.

In the previous book, Reith acquired two male companions Ankhe at afram Anacho who is a Dirdirman and teenager Traz who is a former barbarian chief. He also rescued a very beautiful princess Ylin-Ylan from the priestesses of the cult of Female Mystery who were going to sacrifice her. Ylin-Ylan is from Cath which is supposed to be a technologically advanced culture. Reith wants to return to Earth but needs a spaceship to do that. So, he’s escorting Ylin-Ylan to her father the Blue Jade Lord who is supposed to be grateful for her return, although Reith claims that he doesn’t care about that. Reith and Ylin-Ylan have been lovers but now their “erotic accommodation” had “run its course”.

The group if flying in a old sky-raft when they’re attacked. The raft breaks down during the fighting. Ankhe is able to repair it enough that they make it to a coastal city. When the group is trying to get a ship passage to Cath, they meet cavalier Dordalio who has been searching for Ylin-Ylan. She welcomes his company and he tries to make Reith pay for everything, new cloths to Ylin-Ylan suitable for her station and passages to Cath in a luxury ship. However, Reith refuses and pays only their journey on a more common ship. On the ship is also travelling a family which includes two orange haired girls and Reith has a dalliance with one of them.

Ylin-Ylan urges Dordolio to humiliate Reith but when Reith turns out to be the better swordsman, Ylin-Ylan apparently feels shamed by her association with Reith whom she considers a madman. She strips herself naked and tries to kill everyone. When she can’t she throws herself over the side and dies. Ankhe explains that this is awaile, a ceremony among the people of Cath when their social standing gone so low that they have no other choice but to kill as many people as they can (including women and children) and then die.

Reith and his companions continue to Cath, to inform Ylin-Ylan’s father about her death. Dordolio is sullen and tries to undercut them at every turn, giving them bad advice and trying to slow them down. Later he spreads malicious rumors about them. However, Reith manages to get to her father first. He’s cool and seems to be more concerned about his status and money than her fate. Since he can’t buy a spaceship, Reith tries steal one. However, he’s attacked by assassins and the trio must flee the city.

Once the group gets out of Cath, the story moves again at a brisk pace. The group comes to the territory of Wankh and their human servants, the Wankhmen. The Wankh are amphibious aliens who communicate through chiming sounds. The Wankhmen are the only ones who understand them and can translate for them.

Again, the story shines with cultures and with the aliens. This planet has many, many cultures. However, all of them are patriarchal. For example, in the nomad, barbarian culture we saw in the first book, the women and the girls are the ones who do all the boring but necessary things, like caring for the sick and injured, making food etc. Apparently, women are killed when they do something the men disapproves of. In one culture, when a man beats a woman, he’s courting her. Another is mentioned were the people worship sea scorpions. When they come to the land to spawn, a woman has been left on the beach as a sacrifice. The scorpions lay their eggs in her and when they hatch, they eat the woman. In most cultures, the women are second class citizens, at best. Mostly they seem to be killed or abused.

The Cath culture is highly conscious of status and outward appearance of status. That’s why they have developed the awaile ritual. They also have a legal assassins’ guild. They are one of the few human races on this planet which don’t serve one of the alien species, at least directly.

The story doesn’t really have character development. Reith is at turns brash or cunning as the plot demands. He’s focused on buying, stealing, or even building a spaceship to get home. His two companions are loyal and dependable but the other characters are more suspect. However, even his two companions think that he’s insane or suffering from some sort of amnesia.

This is a fast-paced adventure story but parts of it are quite dated.