The world building in this novel is a step above the last two, and there's a bit more action as well. Or at least more violence. As a virile man of action Dumarest has plenty of occasion to display his martial prowess. And once again there are passages about attacking someone by pinching their carotid arteries. I've never seen so many references to pinching carotids. It's happened in every book so far.
The parallels between the Cyclan and the two-dimensional Commie villains of old spy thrillers are amplified in this book. Before it was implied by their centralized organization and red robes, but now with the Cyclan trying to wreck the economy of Toy it becomes more overt. In fact, despite the sf flourishes the underlying plot of this book is boilerplate Cold War thriller. This red under the bed mentality rings in a screed delivered by Dumarest.
They spread, touching world after world, insinuating their way into a position of power. Oh, they don't rule, not openly, but where you find a cyber you find the power of the Cyclan. And they have power. Subtle, unnoticed, but very real.
Dumarest's visceral hatred of the "spreading red slime" is beginning to reach a pathological intensity.
Once again I can't resist noting the similarities between this book and other sf contemporary books. In this case it's Mack Reynolds' Joe Mauser novels. Toy is somewhat reminiscent of the society depicted in Reylnolds' books, although Tubb puts his own spin on things. And another thing worth commenting on is when someone counts his wealth in precious gems. Even today diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds can be easily synthesized. I doubt they could be considered valuable in a society capable of interstellar travel. But this is space opera after all.
Dumarest triumphs by the end of the book, as he must, but it's a Pyrrhic victory. His quest continues.