Starkad, then as one of the viewpoint characters on Freehold - see also here.
is a civilian xenologist, working for the Navy;
is tall, wiry, blond and hatchet-faced;
dresses more serviceably than fashionably;
smokes a pipe;
is married with children, at least one of them grown up;
is standoffish by nature;
learned about Freehold from conversation, reading and "...machine-enforced mnemonics..." -Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 4;
travels to Freehold on the Germanian merchantman, the Ottokar;
is annoyed when a crewman insists on talking as they get their first view of the planet but then cannot be ungracious to the younger man.
The passage introducing Ridenour includes the phrase "...wilderness of suns..." (ibid.), a slight variation on the appropriate and evocative "...wilderness of stars..." that we have noticed several times previously. See here, here and here.