Search for the Star Stones

~ An Omnibus for the Zero Stone Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Murdoc Jern


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Search for thr Star Stones

 

 

 

Contains ~

  • The Zero Stone (1968) Published by Viking, HC, LCCN 68016065, 286pg ~ cover by Robin Jacques
  • Uncharted Stars (1969) Published by Viking, HC, LCCN 69013080, 253pg ~ cover by Robin Jacques

 

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Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

"The Zero Stone"
Murdoc is the son of Hywel Jern, a former prime assessor to a sector boss of the Thieves' Guild who bought out when his patron was assassinated. Hywel migrated to Angkor and married the daughter of a local hock-lock operator. Shortly after the marriage his in-laws and many others in the vicinity of the port, died from disease brought by a plague ship, but Hywel and his wife survived and even performed some of the necessary governmental functions during the emergency. Some five years later, Angkor became a hub for interstellar trade in that sector and the Jern business thrived through Hywel's many off-world contacts, both legal and illegal, but he maintained a low profile, operating from the same modest hock-lock. One day, the first officer of a spaceliner brought in a ring with a dull stone that was found in interstellar space, far from any star, on the finger of a spacesuited corpse. The crude stone is plain and cloudy, but has a remarkable hardness. The stone gives an impression of great power to Hywel and Murdoc, but not to the rest of the family. Hywel is obsessed with the stone and arranges an apprenticeship for Murdoc with Vondar Ustle, a master gemologist who searches for new sources of precious stones, so that Murdoc can search for more information on the ring and stone. Hywel is well satisfied with his life as apprentice to Vondar and, when he returns for a visit, finds that he no longer fits into his family. One evening, Hywel stays home to conduct some business while the rest of the family goes to a party. Leaving the party earlier, Murdoc returns home to find his father tied to his chair, bloody and dead. Murdoc takes the ring and stone from its hiding place and leaves his home forever.
"Uncharted Stars"
Murdock Jern and his mutated cat-companion Eet journey all the way to dread Waystar. Planetary stronghold of the Thieves’ Guild. For to find the secret of the Zero Stone - and Eet’s origin - they must recover the legendary star map. Pillaged from the tomb of a long-dead civilization, and key to the treasures of an awesome empire.

 

Write-up from the back of the BAEN paperback edition ~

An Interstellar Manhunt – with power beyond imagination as the prize
Merdoc Jern’s father, an interstellar gem trader, was murdered by outlaw competitors and left behind an old ring. Large enough to fit over the finger of a space suit. With his small companion Eet, a strange feline mutant with phenomenal mental powers, Murdoc soon discovered that the stone in the ring was actually a Zero Stone – an alien device left behind by an ancient vanished race – and it was the key to powers beyond human imagination.
Murdoc and Eet had to solve the secret to the Zero Stone, and very quickly, because very greedy and dangerous people wanted that ring, and wouldn’t hesitate at a second murder to obtain it. And Murdoc couldn’t count on the Patrol for help, because they, too, were pursuing him for reasons of their own. He and Eat were lone players in a game whose outcome could mean life or death, both for them and for the billions of others throughout the galaxy.

 

Write-up from a fan ~

The Zero Stone ~ The Zero Stone is the first novel in the Murdoc Jern series. Murdoc is the son of Hywel Jern, a former prime assessor to a sector boss of the Thieves' Guild who bought out when his patron was assassinated. Hywel migrated to Angkor and married the daughter of a local hock-lock operator. Shortly after the marriage his in-laws and many others in the vicinity of the port, died from disease brought by a plague ship, but Hywel and his wife survived and even performed some of the necessary governmental functions during the emergency. Some five years later, Angkor became a hub for interstellar trade in that sector and the Jern business thrived through Hywel's many off-world contacts, both legal and illegal, but he maintained a low profile, operating from the same modest hock-lock.
 One day, the first officer of a space liner brought in a ring with a dull stone that was found in interstellar space, far from any star, on the finger of a space suited corpse. The crude stone is plain and cloudy, but has a remarkable hardness. The stone gives an impression of great power to Hywel and Murdoc, but not to the rest of the family. Hywel is obsessed with the stone and arranges an apprenticeship for Murdoc with Vondar Ustle, a master gemologist who searches for new sources of precious stones, so that Murdoc can search for more information on the ring and stone. Hywel is well satisfied with his life as apprentice to Vondar and, when he returns for a visit, finds that he no longer fits into his family.
 One evening, Hywel stays home to conduct some business while the rest of the family goes to a party. Leaving the party earlier, Murdoc returns home to find his father tied to his chair, bloody and dead. Murdoc takes the ring and stone from its hiding place and leaves his home forever. ~ SL

Uncharted Stars ~ Murdock Jern and his companion, a mutated cat named Eet, find the source of the "zero stones", mysterious gems with the ability to amplify power sources.  After getting revved up by The Zero Stone one goes full speed ahead with Uncharted Stars! These further adventures of Murdoc Jern and Eet take off where Zero Stone left off. The Thieves Guild still wants them and the Patrol wants to use them as bait to catch a Guild Veep. They find a drug-addicted blackballed pilot and take off to earn money to finance a search for the source of the Zero stones. Many obstacles stand in the way not the least that they have been posted as "unreliable-do not deal with" by either the Guild or the Patrol.
They overhear a plot by Jacks to raid an archaeological dig led by a Zacathan. They take off to warn the Zacathan's party about the Jacks but arrive too late. The Jacks have looted the dig and left the badly wounded Zacathan to die. They rescue the archaeologist and go after the loot from the dig. Unfortunately the loot is on Waystar, the legendary hidden base for the Guild. After many hair-raising incidents, they finally take off for an unknown planet in an uncharted section of the galaxy. Is their ancient star chart accurate enough? What happens if they are? And will Murdoc and Eet ever be the same again? These two books are a pair of Andre's finest.
Also as a treat these books also mention many planets and species from her earlier novels. I remember her mentioning Warlock, Arzor, Limbo and Sargol to name a few planets along with Wyverns and Zacathans and her space opera staples such as the Patrol, The Thieves Guild, and the game of Stars and Comets. If one wants to go slower, I wonder how many shout outs to her other works are in there. ~ SL

 

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Bibliography of English Edtions ~

  • (2008) Published by Baen, HC, 1-416-55599-4, $24.00, 400pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton
  • (2008) Published by Baen, DM, 1-416-55599-4, $6.99, 416pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton
  • (2010) Published by Baen, PB, 978-1-4391-3337-8, LCCN 2008027067, $7.99, 432pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton

 

 

 

 

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