The Beast Master
Written by: Andre Norton
Narrated by: Richard J. Brewer
Length: 6 hrs and 35 mins
Series: Beast Master, Book 1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0
Left homeless by the war that reduced Terra to a radioactive cinder, Hosteen Storm - Navaho commando and master of beasts - is drawn to the planet Arzor, to kill a man he has never met.
On that dangerous frontier world, aliens and human colonists share the land in an uneasy truce. But something is upsetting the balance, and Storm is caught in the middle. He had thought the war was over - but was it?
©2005 Andre Norton; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio
Hosteen Storm was raised on Terra where he learned Navaho discipline and gentle but firm handling of animals. When war decimated his home world of Terra he became a commando for the Planetary Confederacy forces with a designation as beast master. His superior was reluctant to let him go due to the volubility of the Terran survivors. But Storm has survived a year without incident and there is no apparent reason for his superiors to withhold permission for him to travel to Arzor, a frontier world. Storm travels with his special team with whom he has special telepathic abilities: two meercats, a dune cat and an eagle.
Storm has not let anyone know his history and the reason he seeks access to Arzor. Storm makes his way on the frontier planet by proving his value to a man hired to drive cattle and horses. Storm shows his skills by managing a horse who is added to his team.
One of the other drivers is immediately hostile to Storm who has learned to observe carefully and watch over his shoulders. Storm makes a friend with a young Norbie who is a native people whose anatomy precludes them from vocal talk so they have developed sign language that Storm picks up fairly quickly. It seems their culture is very similar to that of Storm's early life. But there are other native tribes and natural land hazards, including floods and huge beasts, that threaten the men on their trek.
The crew reaches a way-station after surviving the wild hazards. There Storm runs into the man he is seeking but he is surprised and unprepared for the character of the man. Storm takes on another job with an archaeological research group. They run into problems too and Storm uncovers evidence of a danger that no one has expected on this planet. He must survive the wilds and enemy attacks to get word of the danger to those who can take action. He is met with surprising revelations before it is over.
Hosteen Storm is a wonderful hero. I really enjoyed the whole package of characters, animals and plot with secrets and dangers. I was impressed by the engaging writing and the extent of the plot especially considering this was written in 1959. I was surprised that I had never read this series (which apparently is not really followed in the movie of same name). I look forward to reading more books by Andre Norton.
Audio Notes: Richard Brewer does a good job with the narration. He gives enough distinction to the characters to make it interesting. I became engrossed in the story and the narration made this an easy read for me which I finished in one day.
This is another title in my Audible Library from 9/2011. It qualifies for Audiobook challenge and TBR Double Dare.