The cover of this book is deceiving - the characters in this story, the "dwarfish race," described in the summary, are anything but rustic. They are a breed of super intelligent beings who kill their own offspring if they do not show an aptitute toward greatness at ages 7 and 14. The story takes place in the mid 1800 in an underground world in the Canadian wilderness. Bart Dybig, a man from "aboveground" accidently stumbles into this realm and is made a slave, a "steed," forced to carry around one of the rulers of this subterranean dynasty. The place is ruled by the small people (called Lords) and to some extent, the hybrids - the offspring of the lords' liasons with human slaves. The rest of the population is made up of human slaves who believe themselves to be dead and who believe that the realm in which they are now living is the afterlife, some think of it as Hell.
As time passes, Bart discovers that the Lords have constructed a weapon of mass destruction (not a nuclear bomb or anything as mundane as that) to wipe out the human race for what they perceive as past injustices. Bart, being the good guy that he is, decides to stop this from happening and slowly plans how to destroy the weapon and escape back to the surface with the woman he loves.
A good, imaginative story. Some parts were predicable, but it had enough little plot twists to keep my interest.
In a labyrinth hidden below the Canadian border, dwarfish race rules over humans and plots the downfall of humankind, while Bart Dybig, one of the groups captives, plans his escape to the world above.
Gordon Dickson's Earth Lords, as with most great Science Fiction, actually a book about now. His depiction of an alienated and discriminated against group plotting revenge against the world that made them outcasts should strike a chord with everyone who reads it. In addition, the characterization, plot and prose are excellent, this is an 'easy' read, the pages turn quickly and the story envelopes you with ease. What it isn't is easy thinking. A book well worth seeking out.