Tuf is a unique, likeable, and amusing character, and it’s easy to see why Martin wrote so many short stories with him. Perhaps he’s as fun to write as he is to read.
Martin’s prose is a lot more verbose here than normal, which I don’t think suited him super naturally (well, perhaps supernaturally, but not naturally naturally). The characterisation and story work as ever with him, but beyond Tuf’s own manner of speaking, the prose felt clunky at times.
This is my least favourite Tuf story honestly. It isn’t awful or anything, it’s just the least creative of them all, and it lacks a lot of the more appealing elements that would develop more strongly later. It does set up the premise of the series well, but the interstitial story Martin wrote when he eventually connected all the various Tuf short stories in the fix-up novel “Tuf Voyaging” is much better. I give this particular story two cobalcats, and an arena.