Derai, Book 2 of The Dumarest Saga
A noble lady from one of the fabulously wealthy leading families of planet Hive needed a travel companion. So why did her factor choose a no-account wanderer like Earl Dumarest to be her companion? Derai was no ordinary noble, that much was clear. But was there some further purpose Earl was to serve upon their arrival in Hive?
The book Derai showcases more of E. C. Tubb's world-building abilities and is a core book to the Dumarest series.
Derai is a powerful book in its own right, with plenty of intrigue, wheels within wheels, and surprises. It moves from world to space to world, each scene building toward the climax. The intrigue is interleaved with plenty of action, and the action scenes themselves contribute critical information to the story.
If you have to opportunity to read The Winds of Gath before reading Derai, I recommend doing so. If not, don't let that stop you. Derai is a great story, and a great introduction to the Dumarest universe for those interested in the series.
If you're a player of the role-playing game Traveller, you'll find this book to be one of the prototypes on which that game was modeled. You'll feel at home in this universe, and perhaps discover something new about your game while you're there.