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Star Guard (1955)

de Andre Norton

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Sèrie: Central Control (2)

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In 3956 A.D. the inhabitants of the planet Terra struggle to keep themselves from being annihilated.
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Set in a somewhat different strand of Norton's future history stories, this boos is set approximately three hundred years after Terrans have made it into space. Not as masters of their own destiny, however, but as the barbarians of the star lanes, forced to become mercenaries in the wars of alien beings, either to open up trade routes for the merchants of the older races of Central Command, or in the dynastic squabbles of less developed races that wanted the prestige of having offworld mercenaries spearheading their forces. Karr finds himself involved in such a dispute on the primitive world of Fronn, where his Horde of mercenaries are attempting to put a pretender on the local throne. But their mission goes down the tubes when their employer is killed by an offworld flamer. Highly illegal for combat on Fronn and the Horde realise they are in real trouble when their commanders are murdered in a parley to arrange their expatriation. The remnants have to fight their way to a place of safety in a world where (almost) every hand is turned against them. But how deep does the plotting go that would allow advanced tech be used on a low tech planet? Karr finds out as he makes a dangerous journey into the underworld of Terra! This is a return to more traditional science fiction themes than I have read of Andre Norton's books most recently and there's little in it to really date the book when compared to modern times. ( )
  JohnFair | Jun 7, 2020 |
One of my favorite books of all time. The main character is duty bound, but thrown into a world of political and universal intrigue. I thought his character was very well fleshed out. A young soldier put into a world of deceit and danger a universe away from home. Cool plot to overthrow the system. Great book. ( )
  Joe73 | Apr 28, 2017 |
Andre Norton was one of my favorite authors when I was a pre-teen and teenager. The small sized Ace paperbacks were among my favorite things to read. This one is an oldie from 1955 in a 1961 paperback edition.

I was a little slow to warm to the story of a young recruit just out of training who is sent on his first military mission. Earthmen are mercenaries for the galaxy - not by choice really, but they have been forced into that role by "Central Control" once humans first went into interstellar space. The focal point of our story, young Kana Karr is a mixed race human whose identity bracelet marks him as Australian-Malay-Hawaiian, age eighteen. He's smart and observant and the team he is with makes some startling discoveries. This is clearly an adventure story aimed at younger boys, but it has a lot of intrigue in it which broadens the appeal. I don't think there is a single female character in the entire book despite this being written by a woman! That struck me as really strange. Norton does a really good job I think in describing the alien world the soldiers find themselves involved in. The cultural and political stuff wasn't exactly the clearest and the ending was abrupt and should have been handled better. There are one or two additional novels that follow from this story. I may read them.

Overall the story was interesting enough for me to read but I don't think if I had read this back when I was 13 or 14 or so I would have thought it one of Norton's better works. It does seem to have aged better than many other books I've read from the mid 50's. Still, I'm a little disappointed this wasn't better. ( )
  RBeffa | Dec 4, 2014 |
I downloaded this as a double with Star Rangers under the title Star Soldiers from the Baen Free Library. Enjoyable YA from Norton, with humanity having relatively recently moved into interstellar space, only to find that they are late comers, and have been classified as primitives only fit for mercenary work. Young recruit Kana Karr goes on his first assignment out of training, and finds more than he bargained for. ( )
  JulesJones | Jul 3, 2012 |
From Back Cover:
They were Terrans, considered by Central Control to be the ideal mercenaries of the galaxy. Divided into "Hordes" and "Legions," the former serving on primitive worlds with hand weapons, the latter indulging in technical warfare on more advanced planets. These men of death followed orders perfectly -- until rumors of whole unit annihilations began to spread. . .
Kana Karr was just a Swordsman of an extraordinary planet to quail a common rebellion. A simple assignment -- until Kana discovered the awesome truth behind the inter galactic rumors and realized that not only his life but the fate of the whole human race was irrevocably entwined with the outcome.

My Thoughts on the Story:
This book sat in my TBR pile for almost a year, I would pick it up then put it back never really moving to read it till today. I find that I am glad I did pick it up and finally read it. The narrative starts out this an informative preface that sets the mood for a story along piquing your curiosity about what the main character did to set the galaxy on it's ear. I found the main character Kana, to be a believable character and one who grew as the story did. The interaction between the different alien races were interesting and kept you guessing as to what was going to happen. I found the ending to be satisfying and made me instantly want to see if there was a sequel to it. I would recommend reading this book to others. Since this is a 2 book series you may want to start with book one . Star Rangers first. ( )
  Appliquetion | Jun 2, 2011 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Andre Nortonautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Barr, KenAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Carter, LinProfileautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Emshwiller, EdAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Schwinger, LaurenceAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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The Mercenaries:

When the denomination species of a minor nine planet system revolving about a yellow sun known as "Sol" - situated close to the fringe of the Galaxy - gained knowledge of space flight and came out into our lanes of travel, there arose a problem which Central Control had to solve, and speedily.

Galactic History XX
Because he had never been in Prime before Kana Karr, Arch Swordsman, Third Class, would have liked nothing better than to brace his lank length against the wall of the air port and stare up at those towers which fingered into the steely blue of the morning sky.
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But suddenly the breeze brought a familiar reek to his nostrils. He had not scented that since the night at the Cos fort. Kana threw himself down behind a bush and Soong landed beside him a moment later. Almost directly across the river a tall Llor rode out on a sand spit. He carried no lance but balanced an air rifle across his saddle, thus proclaiming his rank as a regular of the royalist guard, rather than a warrior-follower of some provincial noble. The trooper dismounted to approach the water gingerly, inspecting the ripples before he struck down into them with the butt of his weapon. Plainly he was aware of the tif. But safe on the sand he sat cross-legged, taking out a length of purple cane to chew while he waited. The Terrans flattened themselves every time the Llor’s glance swung carelessly across their too-thin cover. There was no hope of withdrawing unseen now. The Llor spat pieces of pulped cane into the water and once or twice threw stones at the clustering tif. More and more ripples headed for that tongue of gravel as beneath the surface the small masters of the river gathered. Now and then the Llor watched them and gave birth to that snorting sound which served his race for laughter. But, Kana noted, he was careful to stay away from the water. A mewling cry brought the trooper to his feet. Out of the woods came a party of riders. The one in the van wore a short scarlet cloak lined with ttsor fur and carried before him on a perch attached to his saddle a trained hork – thus identifying himself as a member of the Gatanu’s own household. But among the other riders was the hooded, robed figure of a Ventur. The noble did not dismount, but his guard did, pulling the trader with them. For, astonishingly enough, the Venture was a prisoner, his hands lashed at his back. The Llor held a conference with their scout, their leader going so far as to ride out on the spit to peer curiously into the water, while the guards urged their captive to the bank. Then, to the horror of the watching Terrans, they calmly picked up the smaller trader and flung him into the stream where the water was now whipped to a foam by the swarming tif. Kana’s first avenging shot snapped the noble out of his saddle – to plunge into the river headfirst. Methodically the Terrans fired in volleys, picking off the murderers on the far bank. Five of the party were down before the other three fled for the protection of the trees. But none of the fugitives reached that grove. There was a continued flurry in the water where the tif greeted this rare abundance of meat. Kana dared not look at the place where the helpless Ventur had fallen. Death in battle was commonplace – he had been trained to believe that it would be his own end. But the callous cruelty he had just witnessed was to him a terrifying thing. “By Klem and Kol.” Soong twitched at his sleeve and pointed to the river. Something struggled there, flopping about – hampered by the sodden robe and bound hands. And in an ever-widening circle about the Ventur floated tif, limp and belly up. Kana leaped to the top of the nearest rock and then to the next. A stripped Llor skull snarled up at him as he jumped the water gap which cradled it. The Ventur was on his feet, wading toward the sand spit where a moment later Kana and Soong joined him.
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In 3956 A.D. the inhabitants of the planet Terra struggle to keep themselves from being annihilated.

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