"Space Viking" is one of the last books written by H. Beam Piper, and was serialized in four parts in "Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact", starting in November, 1962.
As the story opens, Baron Lucas Trask of Traskon (a farming barony) is about to wed Elaine Karvall (of Karvall steel mills) on the Sword World* of Gram.
Lord Andray Dunnan has other plans for the bride to be. He has an insane fixation on her, insisting that she loves him and that her family has been keeping her prisoner.
It's not much of a spoiler to tell that she give him the brush-off at the pre-wedding reception and that Dunnan comes back the next day after the wedding and shoots the place up, killing Elaine and severely wounding Lucas.
Dunnan then pirates the "Enterprise", (And you thought Roddenberry used it first for a starship!)** a just completed, 2,000 foot diameter*** spherical ship, loaded with equipment, that Duke Angus of Gram was intending to send to the decivilized world of Tanith in order to establish a Space Viking base for easier raiding into the worlds of the old Terran Federation.
Trask trades his Barony of Traskon for the completion of another 2,000 foot spherical ship, naming it "Nemesis", for that's what he intends to be to Andray Dunnan. His plan? Establish the Tanith base for both raiding and to find Andray Dunnan and kill the man who killed his wife.
The story soon gets far more complex than a simple revenge thriller like "Rambo: First Blood". You'll just have to read the book.
If you want a very good review/analysis, go here
but it'd be best to read that site after the book, as it has some major spoilers.
*The Sword Worlds were settled by the survivors of the military forces (and many of the citizens) from the System States Alliance that attempted to secceed from the Terran Federation. Not long after the war, the Federation began to decline, eventually reducing to isolated systems, most of which decivilized to various pre-industrial levels, some even forgetting the technology of black powder. A very few managed to hang onto civilization, but only a small number were able to continue building hyperdrive starships.
**As I've been reading everything I can find by Piper, I've noticed that many things, especially names of planets like Marduk, Hoth, Flamberge and others, have been used by several other authors that came after him. For those who've been comparing Joss Whedon's character "Malcolm Reynolds" of "Firefly" to "Han Solo" of "Star Wars", you _really_ should read "Space Viking". I think you'll find that Mal Reynolds has a lot in common with Lucas Trask.
***And that's not the biggest! Piper created three technologies used throughout his Terro-Human Future History. The Abbot Lift-and-Drive contragravity engine, used by all air and normal-space vehicles and ships, the Dillingham hyperdrive, and "collapsium", a type of collapsed matter that could be plated onto any other metal (most often sheet steel) to dramatically increase its strength to the point where it can take a lot of pounding from weaponry, even contact explosions from nuclear warheads, before breaking under the strain. Most starships are builf from collapsium plated steel. Why steel? It's cheap, and mass doesn't matter much to the Abbot drive. Collapsium is very heavy, so plating it onto lighter metals wouldn't do much except produce a weaker structure. But what's the coolest is that the ships are constructed on, and also regularly land on planet surfaces. The Abbot drive is that powerful on the scale of these ships.
August 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2014
"I am a machine. I am a weapon of war. I am a destroyer of life in the service of life, the sword and shield of my human creators." Bolo Invincibilus
, Mark XXIII, Model B (Experimental) 0075-NKE "Nike".