Black Knight of the Iron Sphere
Series: Lord Tedric 3
Reviewed date: 2005 Sep 8
Black Knight of the Iron Sphere is the third book in the Lord Tedric series conceived by E. E. "Doc" Smith and written by Gordon Eklund after Doc's death. It is a space opera in the grand tradition of Doc's Lensman series.
After having saved the Empire of Man twice (by defeating the Wykzl invaders, and then dethroning the usurper Matthew Carey) Tedric once again saves the galaxy--this time by infiltrating the pirate organization of the infamous and elusive Fra Villion. What he finds is not mere piracy but a plot to overthrow the entire Empire of Man.
The plot of Black Knight of the Iron Sphere has some similarities to Star Wars: 1) a galactic empire, 2) a country kid who joins the rebellion after seeing his family killed, 3) a cantina scene (full of aliens, just like in Star Wars but utterly unlike the rest of the Lord Tedric series, which features only humans) complete with a fight and a shootout, 4) a planet-destroying superweapon (which is tested on an inhabited planet), 5) a planetoid-sized battle station, 6) and a mysterious evil Black Knight (who escapes in a small ship just as the Iron Sphere/Death Star explodes.) It's enough different that George Lucas would have a hard time winning a lawsuit, but enough the same to raise questions. Frankly, it is the cantina scene that seals it: that scene adds little to the book, and the whole character of Yod (the country kid whose family is killed) adds nothing to the book.
One strange thing: the first two books in the series were juveniles, but Black Knight of the Iron Sphere is strangely different. It's still simplistic, but any book with a prostitute as a main character is not a juvenile anymore. Not that it's a dirty book, or that there's any sex in it--there isn't--but prostitutes just aren't mentioned in the juvenile space opera books.