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Literature / The Beast Master

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The Beast Master (1959) is a science fiction novel by Andre Norton.

The Beast Master is Hosteen Storm, a commando soldier with telepathic/empathic links to a team of genetically-enhanced animal companions: the meerkats Hing and Ho, the African Black Eagle Baku and the sand cat Surra. Following a war between humanity and the alien Xik, which humanity wins but only after the Xik wipe out all life on Earth, he attempts to make a new life for himself on one of Earth's colony worlds, where he gets involved in a Space Western adventure and another conflict with the Xik.

Norton wrote one sequel, Lord of Thunder (1962). Many years later, three more sequels were written by Lyn McConchie.

The fantasy film series The Beastmaster was inspired by Andre Norton's novel, but makes so many changes that she declined to be credited. It in turn inspired the TV series BeastMaster.


These novels contain examples of:

  • Animal Espionage: Hosteen Storm regularly uses his animals as spies/observers.
  • Attack Animal: Surra the sandcat is highly effective in battle.
  • Badass Native: Hosteen Storm is an ex-commando of Navajo descent.
  • The Beastmaster: Hosteen Storm has telepathic links with a group of genetically-engineered animals (a cat, an eagle, and a pair of meerkats).
  • Bond Creatures: Hosteen Storm's animal companions.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: In Lord of Thunder.
  • Brown Note: Lord of Thunder mentions that subsonic noise could be used to control animals or drive them into madness.
  • Due to the Dead: In The Beast Master, Hosteen Storm taunts a character he has realized is an alien: recounting all the aliens' funerary customs and how he won't get them, because no one will realize he died.
  • Earth That Was: In the backstory of The Beast Master, the alien Xik performed a "burnoff" of the surface of the Earth, killing all humans living on it. Luckily the human race had already spread out to other planets in the galaxy.
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  • Genocide Dilemma: This dilemma is resolved non-genocidally. Humans have defeated a race of Xiks. Xiks are clearly Always Chaotic Evil, but they're only left reduced to their homeworld and closely watched. When Xik spies' actions are revealed to be the cause of a series of disasters, they're hit with civil — legal — action, instead of military. This despite the fact that the Xiks had just destroyed the planet Earth (we were living on other planets too, so it's not as big a deal).
  • Home Sweet Home: In The Beast Master, Hosteen Storm nearly goes insane after the destruction of Terra; he channels it into a desire for Revenge, and in the end, discovers that he had still living relatives on another planet where he could make his new home.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: In The Beast Master, Hosteen has to persuade an alien that a spaceship, landing in a forbidden area, is not a human ship but that of their enemies. He concludes by giving him a knife and telling it to drive it home if he doesn't believe him.
  • The Remnant: In The Beast Master, the villains turn out to be a detachment of the same aliens who found out too late that nuking Terra into radioactive sterility wouldn't save them from Terra's colonies. The war's been over for a year or so, but they're trying to make new trouble on a colony planet.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The protagonist's animal companions include two meerkats, Hing and Ho.
  • Space Western: The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In The Beast Master, Earth has been destroyed in an interstellar war as of the beginning of the story; the protagonist chooses another planet to be sent to after the war. The military is (justifiably) worried about his state of mind, particularly since they haven't seen any of the obvious / expected reactions from him.

Alternative Title(s): Lord Of Thunder


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