The second in the Star Kings sequence turns into a somewhat charming cheesy space opera.
According to pulpgen, the novel is made up of these four stories, but whether they are changed, added to, or what, to make this 'fixup' I am not sure.
Kingdoms of the Stars Amazing Stories, September, 1964
The Shores of Infinity Amazing Stories, April, 1965 -chap 8
The Broken Stars Fantastic, December, 1968 - chap 13
Horror from the Magellanic Amazing Stories, May, 1969 - chapter 19
However, if I had guess, I'd put the second at around chapter 8, the third at chapter 13 and the last at chapter 19, perhaps, for an approximate look.
Others will of course know a lot more.
John Gordon is actually in analysis, worried that his previous experiences were just a fantasy, until he miraculously wakes up, and there he is with Lianna in his actual body, not inhabiting Zarth Arn's.
Their problem now is to stop an extra-galactic invasion of evil aliens.
To do so, this book transforms into sort of a 'reverse-buddy' story, as previous antagonist Shorr Kan and Gordon go on the run together, to try and do something about the problem. This becomes rather amusing at times, and if this sort of thing makes you chuckle, then it is pretty much doing its job.
Just before they get away, in the presence of Kan's new master:
"Look at him, Hull," said Gordon mockingly. "Isn't he the one to put a brave face on? Lord of the Cloud, master of the Dark Worlds, almost the conqueror of the Empire itself . . . and now that he's reduced to skulking in the Marches and mixing up in filthy plots with ragtag one-world counts, he still stays cheerful."
When trying to save the Galaxy, in a ship:
"It does," said Gordon, "sound exactly like the kind of clever double cross you've always been good at." "Doesn't it, though," said Shorr Kan, and smiled. "And I'll have to admit that I considered doing it just that way."
"Then let's find something else to pitch it on," said Shorr Kan brightly. "Friendship, for example. I've always rather liked you, Gordon. I've said so in the past. Doesn't that count for anything?"
"Oh, my God," said Hull Burrel softly. "Here's the biggest scoundrel in the galaxy, and he asks you to believe in him because he likes you. Let me kill him, John Gordon."
"Look at me," said Shorr Kan. "I'm in as much danger as you. More, because if we get out of this mess there's more trouble waiting for me. I'm flying for my life . . . the second time . . . me that was lord of the Dark Worlds. But do I get upset? Not a bit. If Shorr Kan has to go, he'll go with his head high."
Much later, Lianna comes up with this, which seems to describe the villain in question quite well:
"At last I see what it is in that devil that attracts you," she said. "One hardly ever meets a man who is perfect at anything . . . but Shorr Kan is the perfect rogue."
So, straight man space hero, charismatic nogoodnik, and your smart, brave, space princess vs the diabolical H'Harn invasion.
Oh yeah, and Gordon is the only one that can use the Disruptor super weapon that can save them all.
I liked this book quite a bit more than I thought I would.
Return To the Stars : 1 Kingdoms of the Stars - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 2 The Shores of Infinity - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 3 The Broken Stars - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 4 Horror from the Magellanic - Edmond Hamilton
Yes, this space hero business is real.
3 out of 5
Got to get out of here, princess.
3 out of 5
This busted up space travel makes a man want a drink.
3.5 out of 5
Disrupting the evil alien takeover.
3.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5