The Jester at Scar
1970

Plot
On Scar, Dumarest kills three men in self defense.† The circumstances of the robbery attempt are suspicious, and on their bodies he finds five rings with red stones, leading him to believe they were specifically after the ring Kalin gave him.† There isnít much to do about it at the time, so to build a stake for his next passage, he and his partner Clemdish prospect for beneficial spores among the forests of often lethal fungi and mushrooms that make up the planetís only plant life.† Thanks to Dumarestís intuition and luck, they hit the jackpot: the extremely rare and valuable ďgolden sporeĒ.† They stake their claim and return to town to equip themselves with harvesting equipment.

Dumarest is summoned by a monk of the Church of Universal Brotherhood on behalf of Selene, a woman who befriended him upon his arrival on Scar.† She has been mortally wounded in an attack, and Duamrest learns that her attackers were also looking for a ring with a red stone.† Dumarest seeks out the attackers and kills the only one who is still on Scar.† The fight is witnessed by Jocelyn, Lord of the planet Jest, and his entourage.† Jocelynís subplot is only loosely intertwined with Dumarestís adventure, but involves the machinations of the Cyclan to dominate both Jest and Eldafane, the homeworld of Jocelynís betrothed.† Jocelyn entertains Dumarest on his ship, confesses that he also distrusts the Cyclan, and hints he might be able to help Earl find Earth.† The conditions on Jest have made the society rather bizarre, and Jocelyn is an unusual character who believes in nothing other than fate and the laws of chance, and behaves with equal parts philosophy, good humor, and cruelty. †Dumarest is so unsure of whether Jocelyn can be trusted, heís happy just to be allowed to leave the ship alive.

Earl and Clemdish go back after the golden spore (in a nearly inaccessible place, else it wouldnít be rare) and after a nearly fatal mountain climbing adventure, manage to retrieve it.† Naturally, they are almost immediately set upon by claim jumpers who kill Clemdish and demand not only the golden spore, but Earlís ring as well.† Dumarest releases lethal parasitic spores from a common but deadly variety of fungus, killing his attackers, and leaps from a cliff into the ocean to avoid their fate.† Caught by a riptide, he drifts for days, floating on the full bags of golden spore he and Clemdish harvested.† Near death, he is rescued by Jocelyn on the condition that Dumarest give Jocelyn all of the golden spore he has collected (Jest is a poor world, and the golden spore is worth a lot).

Upon his return to the mushroom processing camp, Dumarest has a final confrontation with Jocelyn, Cyber Yeon (who is part of Jocelynís fiancťeís dowry, and is the Cyclanís man on the scene to bring Jest and Eldafane under Cyclan control), and Meoud, the foreman of the camp.† Dumarest deduces that the foreman is the only person who was directly connected to all of the attacks, and kills him.† He further accuses Yeon of secretly pulling the foremanís strings, which Yeon confirms by trying to kill Dumarest and Jocelyn (two birds with one stone).† Dumarest kills Yeon, saving himself and Jocelyn.† A grateful Jocelyn gives Earl the clue about Earth he hinted at earlier, and makes him an offer: the flip of a coin.† If Earl loses, he comes to Jest as an adviser to Jocelyn.† If Earl wins, he gets the cost of ten High passages.† Earl wins, and the book ends.

Clues of Earth
Jocelyn confirms again that Terra is another name for Earth.† He also mentions an ancient poem that suggests that all humanity originated on one planet - Terra.† He surmises that if true, then the first wave of colonists to expand from that planet would have used it as the zero point of their coordinates (instead of the center of the galaxy, as is currently used).† If Dumarest can find an ancient star almanac or shipís log that uses the old system, and correlate at least three planets from that source with planets whose coordinates are known in the current system, then the coordinates of Terra can be extrapolated from that information.† I personally speculate that the poem to which Jocelyn refers may be a fragment or variant of what Dumarest eventually learns is the creed of The Original People, but since Jocelyn doesnít recite it, it also might be totally unrelated.†

The Cyclan
Earl becomes aware that the Cyclan desperately wants the ring Kalin gave him, but he doesnít learn why.† Dumarest kills several Cyclan-hired thugs and eventually Cyber Yeon in self-defense when at various times they try to murder him and steal it.† In the process, he inadvertently spoils a Cyclan plot to extend their domination to the worlds Jest and Eldafane.

The Journey
Dumarest begins and ends Book 5, The Jester at Scar, on Scar, with no mention of previous stops or next intended destination.

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