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Thank you and I apologize in advance for how few facts I can remember.

I'm looking for the title of a book. I think it may be the first in a series of perhaps 3 or more books. I read it around 1990 but got it from the library so it is likely older than that.

What I can remember is there is a man that travels from planet to planet and he has to figure out the problems / how that planet works to acquire the skills to move on to the next planet. I believe he was on one planet where he hops from stone to stone because the ground is toxic. I think (but can't remember) if he is trying to get back to Earth. Of course he is clever, resourceful and always somehow figures out the patterns.

If it helps I think it had an orange-ish cover, some sort of desolate landscape. Any help would be appreciated and I realize this may fit many narratives.

Finally I think I would probably categorize this as both sci-fi and fantasy.

  • You tagged it with teleportation -- did the protagonist use that to travel between planets? You also used aliens -- were there aliens in the book(s), and if so, how did they figure into the story? – Niall C. Dec 2 '14 at 5:29
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    The Dumarest saga by E.C.Tubb? – sueelleker Dec 2 '14 at 6:56
  • @sueelleker: ^_^ Which of the 33 volumes are you suggesting? – FuzzyBoots Dec 2 '14 at 11:51
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Seems to me this is either the series the World of Tiers (Farmer) or one specific book in it, The Lavalite World (if I remember correctly).

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The hero and heroine "gate" from "pocket universe" to pocket universe in order to do ... well, whatever they're doing. Saving themselves and/or getting the bad guys, I think. One of the volumes, and I think it is The Lavalight World, has this puzzle aspect you mention: he is trapped in a maze of "twisty little passages all different" except that each gate goes between pocket universes of remarkably different characteristics and the puzzles he needs to figure out are, as you indicate, quite deadly to mistakes and no second chances.

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Since you think it would be both sci-fi and fantasy, was it young-adult fiction?

It could possibly be Azur – Planet of the Captains (1975) by Jon Bing, which is the first novel of four in the series The Chronicles of the Starship Alexandria, published in Norwegian in the 70s and 80s but possibly later in other countries.

The series is about a large starship that travels between planets colonized by humans, one new planet in each book. They engage in one major conflict on each planet that requires problem solving. It's usually more of a cultural and political problem than a puzzle, but in the fourth and last book (Tanz – Planet of Riddles, 1985) they have to work their way through a maze of puzzles. I don't specifically recall a jumping puzzle with the toxic water, but it's been a while since I read it too.

A boy from the first planet joins the starship and is a major character in the other books (together with a "bat cat" called Miromurr, if that rings any bells). The first book's cover does have an orange-ish, desolate landscape:

Azur – Planet of the Captains

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