An enjoyable fix-up novel in Martin’s “Thousand Worlds” setting. Short stories from over the 70s and 80s were compiled by Martin here into a fairly sequential linear format, and the seams rarely show; it feels like a cohesive novel in its own right.
The character of Tuf is unique, likeable, and amusing, and his many adventures are enjoyable enough science-fiction tales. The serialised nature of the short stories the novel is compiled of help keep the book trucking along nicely in terms of pacing. The prose fluctuates a bit at times, the second and third last stories in the novel were the earliest to be written, and it does show to a degree. Martin is more verbose here than normal, and it doesn’t work out fantastically, since his strengths are more in characterisation and story than prose itself.
Of the stories in the novel, the framing story (“Loaves and Fishes”, “Second Helpings”, “Manna From Heaven”) and the introductory story “The Plague Star” are the strongest. “Guardians” is also quite good. “A Beast for Norn” is fairly lacklustre. “Call Him Moses” is reminiscent of “The Way of Cross and Dragon”, but not nearly as good as that story.
Overall, I give the novel three loaves and a fish.