"A Circus of Hells
is a novel written by Poul Anderson
in 1970. In the Polesotechnic League
continuity it is the second novel to feature Dominic Flandry
This is one weird novel, not as straightforward as Ensign Flandry; it features Flandry as a junior lieutenant, stationed on a world the empire no longer cares about. Flandry irked that the empire does nothing about the Merseian encroachment on this part of imperial space, accepts a million-credit bribe to undertake an illegal voyage to a world long forgotten by the empire; a world supposedly rich in precious ores and metals.
Accompanied by Djana, a deeply religious hooker, who has her own agenda, Flandry reaches the planet Wayland and finds that the computer that ran the mining operations is still very functional and has been building myriad robot species that hunt each other for parts and even engage in combat on massive life-sized chessboards.
Upon leaving Wayland, the Merseians capture Flandry's ship. A Merseian scientist named Ydwyr tells Flandry that he will do what he can to spare his life if Flandry will assist him in his scientific exploration of the planet Talwin, where Flandry and Djana have been taken. Supposedly a research station, the Merseians have hidden military and intelligence operations on Talwin, despite the planet's location in neutral space, because of its proximity to imperial borders. Flandry assists Ydwyr in cataloging Talwin’s geological and xenobiological information, until Flandry learns that the Merseian military plans to dispose of him and he tries to make a break for it.
Strangely Anderson never resolves the Wayland plot thread, but still ties up all the other loose ends nicely.
The next Dominic Flandry novel is "The Rebel Worlds.