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Some very short book reviews

I'll tell you something else I haven't done on LiveJournal for ages - book reviews. It's been a couple of years in fact. I had to go into the library with a notebook to remind myself which books I'd read. This will probably take several posts to do, but here's the first few, all by the late, great Jack Vance...

Star King, Jack Vance
The Killing Machine, Jack Vance

The first two books in Vance's Demon Princes series. Revenge SF in which our hero tracks down each of five bad guys responsible for enslaving his village. Good stuff, but the problem is that Vance has done better. You keep hoping that the next chapter is going to feature some marvellously elaborate descriptions of bizarre societies, but it never happens.


City of the Chasch, Jack Vance

The first in the Planet of Adventure series. Space scout (yes, very Travelleresque!) crashes on alien world. In this first book, he has to deal with the reptilian Chasch. Interesting aliens, but ultimately fairly run of the mill pulp SF story.


The Dragon Masters, Jack Vance

This won a Hugo (admittedly for Best Short - it's a novella really rather than a novel or a short story). Clever dichotomy of a human civilisation that has bred alien dragons as beasts of war and a visiting alien civilisation that...well that would be a spoiler. Good stuff.


Another Vance I've been getting back into is Lyonesse. I'm listening to the audiobook of the first Lyonesse book, 'Suldrun's Garden'. I first read these when I was still in school, and haven't re-read them. I remembered liking them, but have forgotten most of the plot. Since then, I've read a lot of fantasy novels, so I rather expected that I'd be semi-disappointed when I returned. I was wrong - Suldrun's Garden is superb. I'll do a fuller review of the trilogy (it deserves a fuller review) when I've got to the end of the third book.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
steer
Jul. 31st, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
I had exactly your thoughts with the Demon Princes. I read them "late" -- that is I already loved Jack Vance and bought them in my late 30s as an important work by an author I thought was great. Hence I was disappointed. There are some interesting concepts in there -- but mainly it seems quite run of the mill stuff. Dragon Masters I felt was OKish. Lyonesse though has some brilliant parts. I loved The Green Pearl story itself.

Exactly like you, I think what I like best about Vance is when he really lets his imagination go completely, is unconstrained by everything and just described the strangeness of a truly alien world (whether it is a sci-fi or a fantasy world).
philmophlegm
Jul. 31st, 2013 09:12 am (UTC)
"...what I like best about Vance is when he really lets his imagination go completely, is unconstrained by everything and just described the strangeness of a truly alien world (whether it is a sci-fi or a fantasy world)"


Yup. Couldn't agree more.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )