John Dilullo is enjoying life in his hometown Brindisi after having been a mercenary for decades when Morgan Chane arrives and proposes to recover priceless gems known as the Singing Suns. To Dilullo the idea seems crazy because Starwolves stole them, the fiercest pirates in space.
Morgan Chane explains to Dilullo that the Suns are not on Varna, the Starwolves’ homeworld, because they’re not interested in art but rather in their value so they’ll sell them separately. Dilullo gets convinced to try a last mission before retiring for good but it will prove far more complex than expected.
“The World of the Starwolves” is the third adventure of Morgan Chane, the Starwolf forced to flee from his fellow pirates after killing one of them. In previous novels he worked with John Dilullo, a mercenary commander who saved him only to exploit him as a member of his crew with whom a mutual respect established over time.
Morgan Chane grew up on the planet Varna, where gravity is very high so its inhabitants develop physical abilities that far exceed those of the Earthlings and are the fiercest space pirates. He’s one of the characters created by Edmond Hamilton, who wrote space opera of the classical type, very adventurous in which characters were often secondary.
In the Starwolf trilogy, character development is at levels higher than the standards of the era when Edmond Hamilton started his career. At least the protagonists have a development and their evolution in the course of the novels showing the time that passed.
In the first novel John Dilullo was already an old mercenary who was trying to accomplish the last jobs maintaining the reputation he had built up over time. In “The World of the Starwolves” he retired from that activity and returned to live in his native Italy when Morgan Chane proposes to lead another mission.
The relationship between the two men also evolved but remained quite complicated. Morgan Chane is a son of Earthlings but grew up among the Starwolves and like them is amoral while John Dilullo always considered moral problems even while working as a mercenary. For this reason, the two of them learned to respect each other but often end up arguing because they have different ideas about the way to do things.
In “The World of the Starwolves” an important element is also Morgan Chane’s missing his old life on planet Varna. Recovering the Singing Suns would mean earning a huge reward but the motivations that drive him to attempt that deed are quite complex.
These developments of the protagonists reinforce what is still a great space adventure. Recovering the Singing Suns is a difficult and risky mission and proves to be full of unexpected dangers. Edmond Hamilton gives his best in telling a story full of action with many twists in which the protagonists have contacts with various societies on different planets.
The Starwolf trilogy was a product of Edmond Hamilton’s mature period in which the author included many themes of classical space opera developing them well beyond the levels typical of previous decades. The sense-of-wonder remains crucial and the plots are linear in stories that are short by current standards but this is the best of classical space opera and for this reason I think it’s still worth reading.