By John Brunner
As soon as town of Carrig stood superb on the planet that were settled through house refugees within the far-off, forgotten previous. From each nook of this primitive misplaced international caravans got here to trade--and to view the good King-Hunt, the ugly attempt during which the folks of Carrig selected their rulers.
Then from area got here new arrivals. And with them got here their invincible demise weapons and their ruthless, omnipotent tyranny.
Now there will be no King-Hunt in Carrig, or wish for the planet-unless a fool-hardy high-born named Saikmar and a gorgeous Earthling space-spy named Maddalena, may well do the impossible...
First released 1969.
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Attaining again into time together with his mind's eye, he attempted to photograph the way in which issues needs to as soon as have been—before males discovered to count number the variety of days in a 12 months, probably, while the 1st new moon of spring got here as a shock. without doubt, again then, they have to have known as the folk jointly and selected the fittest to assault the king through renowned acclamation. it can all were spontaneous. no longer as these days, whilst the entire clans had spent the full wintry weather getting ready for this season, placing their so much hopeful contenders via grueling exams, enhancing their gliders, remodeling their darts to cause them to fly farther and straighter and penetrate extra deeply, till lengthy sooner than the meeting they knew virtually past doubt no matter if an individual this yr used to be more than enough to kill the king. Ritualized. It had turn into ritualized, stilted, formal, regimen! And but it nonetheless enshrined the fundamental fact, as a bit dry seed may well carry the shape of a very good tree … The harper’s tune used to be loss of life to a detailed whilst the door of the room slammed again and Sir Bavis’ basically son, Ambrus, got here hurrying in. “Respect, father,” he stated, creating a perfunctory bow, and didn't stay up for the well mannered solution prior to charging forward. “I may understand no matter if what's to be performed could be performed now or within the morning. ” “What? ” acknowledged Sir Bavis stonily, taking a look the early life up and down. He had occasionally puzzled approximately his wife’s fidelity, seeing this black-browed fellow together with his sullen mouth and his fierce face with out subtlety. Himself, notwithstanding males may possibly say he was once robust as a pillar of the fort and difficult as its stones, he had ever been a guy who wouldn't strike down what he may possibly undermine, a sufferer schemer who deliberate for years forward if want be. still, he knew how not often a pressure bred real from new release to new release; probably a few ancestor of his or his wife’s had endowed Ambrus with such a lot of faults. It used to be a burden that needed to be borne. now not realizing his father’s response, Ambrus gave a clean stare. He acknowledged, “You understand what I’m conversing about—what should be performed! ” Stifling a sigh, Sir Bavis leaned again in his high-armed chair and prolonged first one leg, then the opposite, in order that his valets may perhaps slip on and lace his ceremonial boots. He acknowledged, “Tell me, Ambrus, who do males say stands the easiest likelihood day after today? ” The adolescence brightened. eventually he was once catching on. Sir Bavis triggered him further—though definitely just a dummy could have didn't notice servant’s mouth might be unlocked the place a noble’s couldn't, and that those that attended him have been still servants, sooner than whom one didn't refer even obliquely to secrets and techniques of kingdom. “Do they not,” he pursued, “speak in particular hugely of Saikmar son of Corrie, of extended family Twywit? ” “Indeed! ” Ambrus proven, pretending enthusiasm. “It’s stated he’s the cleverest obvious in 40 years! ” unstated below the phrases was once his deepest gloss at the comment: no longer that that might make any distinction to his destiny! “Before the week is out, then,” Sir Bavis muttered, “we might even see a brand new extended family ruling during this castle.