Clearly "Nomads of Gor" is the most popular of the Gor novels by John Norman, but I would still argue that "Assassin of Gor" is far and away the most ambitious in the series. For that reason, I consider it the best of the Chronicles of Counter-Earth series. Certainly Norman never tried anything of this scope, either in terms of the size or the complexity of the novel, and there is a sense in which this is the last Gor book in which Tarl Cabot is more an Earthman on Gor than a true Gorean. "Assassin of Gor" begins with the title character, Kuurus, being hired to avenge the assassination of Tarl Cabot, a warrior of Ko-ro-ba. The trail leads to Glorious Ar where he finds political intrigue in the House of Cernus, agents of the Priest-Kings, spaceships arriving from Earth with new female captives, a dramatic auction of pleasure slaves, a thrilling tarn race, a climatic battle of gladiators, and a couple of intriguing games of Kaissa (the Gorean version of chess).
As with the best of Norman?s books, "Assassin of Gor" is full of vivid characters. Elizabeth Caldwell is back as Cabot's chief ally in finding out why the House of Cernus wants him dead and how they are involved in the endeavors of the Others, the galactic foes of the Priest-Kings. There is also the return of a major character from earlier in the series and a brief flashback involving the fate of the last egg of the Priest-Kings. However, the depth of the book comes out in terms of the new characters, including Mip the Tarn Keeper, Sura the house slave, the new slave girls Phyllis and Virginia, the young warriors Relius and Ho-Sarl, Scormus the young Kaissa champion and Qualius the blind player, and Hup the Fool (my favorite). We also meet a major supporting character for future Gor novels, Samos the slaver of Port Kar.
The emphasis is still on the action and adventure in "Assassin of Gor" more than the Gorean philosophy that would come to dominate the later volumes in the series. Even by this fifth book in the series the principle that only by totally submitting to a master could a woman find true freedom, pleasure, etc., was pretty clear. I never really wanted a woman chained to my sleeping furs, so I tended to ignore those elements, especially as they became a repetitious mantra. For me the best Gor books were those that took the tradition of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books with John Carter and upped the ante on the action. That is why "Assassin of Gor" is the best of the lot and why Norman never really tried to do anything this monumental ever again. In fact, the rest of the series would always suffer in my mind because of how far short the remaining volumes fell of the plateau of "Nomads" and "Assassin."