When in doubt, write the same story again. That’s an exaggeration, but there’s no question that, having killed off hero Toller Maraquine in the previous book, Shaw here resurrects him in the nominal form of his grandson – emotionally and characteristically the spitting image of his ancestor.
The first part of the book – dealing with a trip back to Land from Overland – goes fairly well, though there are some character notes that are never really explained – chiefly the attitude of Toller’s love interest, who initially disdains him. In the second half, Shaw unabashedly plunges fully into a Doc Smith-era pulp narrative. It works, but the halves of the book are awkwardly married, and I can’t say that Shaw really brings anything new to the pulp feeling of it.
I felt that Shaw closed out the prior book in this series, The Ragged Astronauts, without quite knowing where to take it. This book doesn’t really show any more planning. This has been a messy series, with a good idea and fun characters, but none of it really as well developed is it could have been. Shaw gives the appearance of making it all up as he goes along (which is fine) and of not bothering to tie everything together very smoothly (which is not). While there’s a new situation and new adversary to handle in this final book, it all feels like an awkward patchwork. Despite my positive memory of the trilogy from reading it in the early ’90s, I cannot, on reflection, say that this is Shaw’s best work. It’s entertaining, but not really memorable.