The Book of Leviathan kJack Vance has better command of of the English language and its possibilities than any other author I ve evernownOf all his books this series is my favorite1 Lyonesse2 The Green Pearl3 Madouc 3 5 stars I think that one of the things that draws me to Vance s Lyonesse series apart from his wonderful sardonic wit and urbane dialogue is the anachronism of it It is a world ostensibly our own in the dark ages and yet there is a wonderful melding of times and cultures that wreaks havok with any real sense of history but manages to build a colourful world that is consistently diverting Though any Arthurian element to these stories is thin at best really little than a few allusions and some shared names the Lyonesse series in many ways is like the older Arthurian stories than many of the newer interpretations of the cycle that try and reconstruct a real history for a real Celtic chieftain in post R The first volume in Vance s Lyonesse trilogy felt like such a departure for the author not that it didn t have his characteristic wit and oddness but I really felt it was one of the first times that I was invited to feel for his characters His usual fare is light and disconnected skipping across the surface without taking time to reflect His characters are often clowns comically suffering for their own errors and bruised egos motivated by base urges like spite and greed and lacking personal depth yet I found Suldrun s subtle sense of alienation and melancholy to be vastly intriguing than all of Cugel s adventures in Dying Earth no matter how wacky they becameWhich is why it was a disappointment that this second volume returns to of the same from Vance largely episodic picaresue scenes And yet unlike the silly and freewheeling style of Dying Earth here his silliness is at constant odds with his larger serious plot of war and politics and betrayalThe explanations of politics and history fall particularly flat trying to drum up some interest in the intrigue and battle which would be better served by personal connections from the characters through whom we experience the tale as opposed to references to thankfully brief appendices and lengthy descriptions of architecture and foodHe gets caught up in these explanations and descriptions in reminding us of where we are what s going on and what the characters motivations are These are central aspects of the story so the fact that he feels that he has to Nine Ghosts keep restating them just highlights the fact that he s struggling with focus structure and pacing in a longer interconnected storyThese explanations extend to the characters we re often being told why they do what they do and it s not just that we re in their heads but that Vance seems concerned with making them transparent to us It s not really an effective use of words to sit and tell us why the characters do everything The reader should be able to figure that out from the behavior and details from how they are presented If it isn t clear from how it s presented then you don t really gain anything by sitting down and telling usIt s also a denial of the reader s act of interpretation that instead of looking at the character and trying to figure them out to read them we are instead told what the truth of it is This doesn t mean we should never get into the characters heads but what makes a character intriguing is to see their conflicts and the gradual progression of those conflicts which eventually lead to a point of climax where we see that conflict come to someind of fruition Of course these conflicts should also relate to the character s outer life the problems they have to face should reveal those internal conflicts and force the characters to come to terms with themDuring one section Aillas Las Maravillosas Obras de Dios: Historias B�blicas Para La Familia knows there is a spy in his midst but doesn tnow who it is So he goes on to mention several times that he s concerned that there s a spy and that he wonders who it might be As readers of course we re curious but it s just redundant to have the character شرح جامع مثنوى معنوى keep mentioning it in the same way without anyind of progression or fresh view on the subjectCertainly sometimes a writer has to remind their reader of a fact to catch them up and it s admittedly always a challenge to find a way to do this without being obtrusive or repetitive and to find a balance between too much explanation and not enough but that s what sets an author of skill apartIn the first book Vance managed to do a better job giving us Suldrun s and Aillas internal Vance managed to do a better job giving us Suldrun s and Aillas internal without overstating them and letting them develop naturally over the course of the book and besides Suldrun and Aillas we also had the strange intertwinings of Faude Carfilhiot and Melancthe these figures trying to discover their own identity at once competent but unfulfilled literal half creatures searching for wholenessIn The Green Pearl there is a similar relationship between Melancthe and Shimrod but we really only get one side of #The Story We See Shimrod #story We see Shimrod Pining After Her His Attempts To pining after her his attempts to her his thoughts and desires but not hers She is meant to be a mystery and we do get some explanations for why she behaves the way she does but by and large she serves mainly as a motivation and foil for Shimrod s romantic intentions the source of his desires and frustrations which is unfortunate since she seems to be a much interesting character with intriguing motivationsThat Vance faltered here may be because the emotional depth he s dealing with isn t as intense as the star crossed romance in the first book and also because a star crossed romance is much easier to get your head around rather than the existential struggle with identity that Melancthe and Shimrod go through as magical creaturesVance s villains also tend to be interesting than his heroes not an uncommon trait in writers because villains are overall given free reign in terms of behavior and personality This being said they are still rather flat often acting out of malice and spite instead of complex internal motivations It s that they have vigor that they are demonstrable in their personalities because they are given freer reignAll in all it shouldn t be surprising that Vance should struggle somewhat with this series Here is an author who tends to prefer silly amoral heroes motivated by greed and self preservation now trying to produce characters of depth and pathos who prefers episodic humorous unstructured stories but is now trying to relate a long running large scale political conflict who tends to tell stories about character faltering and ul. When magic ruled and The New Song: For the Sunday School, Societies of Christian Endeavor, and Other Religious Exercises (Classic Reprint) kings were strongSouth of Eire and west of Gaul was the land of the Elder Isles a mystical place of fairy shees valiantnights and the po.
Jack Vance ☆ 4 characters
Ids middle book syndrome by sticking to the formula that worked so well in volume 1 a slow but interesting build up to some crazy dark fantasy shenanigans HERE ARE THE PREMISESOF THE NOTABLE AND SINGULARZUCKDEALER IN OBJECTS UNIUE UNDER THE FIRMAMENTMY PRICES ARE FAIRMY GOODS ARE OFTEN REMARKABLE No guarantees No returns No refundsWelcome back to the Elder Isles the fantastic realm of warring ingdoms and powerful wizards beautiful maidens and fickle faery folks where druids fight against Norse raiders and Arthurian Knights cross paths with early Christian pilgrims and with the last survivors of Atlantis Get ready for adventure for bloodshed and romance for alternative universes that can be reached through magical portals and for grotesue creatures unseen anywhere else except from the pen of the master of ceremonies Jack Vance who really lets his imagination fly all over the map and for whom one universe one planet is never enoughAs in the first volume of the Lyonesse epic these flights of fancy can get overwhelming and just one step away from self indulgence The plot and the wanderings of the main actors are even pointless and leisurely than in Suldrun s Garden By the end of the novel Vance does a decent job of tying up the many loose ends but it felt a bit rushed after all the build up and many uestions and resolutions are left for the last part of the trilogy Green Pearl is a fine example of the the journey is interesting than the destination school of adventureHaving made my complaints you can probably understand why the plot is difficult to reduce to a few lines of synopsis and still make sense I must also be careful to avoid spoilers The most important aspect I think readers need to be aware of is that the Lyonesse books are not standalones they are just three episodes of one huge story that got too big to be published in one single novel not unlike Lord of the Rings So if you haven t already done so pick up Suldrun s Garden and get busy getting familiar with the Elder Isles and with their ten competing ingdoms with the Forest of Tantrevalles where each tree each meadow and each creature you meet is brimming with magic and mystery and danger Boiled down to its most simple building bricks there s an ambitious Arabian Challenge
king in the town of Lyonesse Casmir who plots to reunite all teningdoms under his rule and he is prepared to break every rule of decency and morality to achieve his goal His opponent is the young King Aillas who is as lawful and honorable as Casmir is dastardly Casmir is allied with a couple of wizards Tamurello and Vishbume while Aillas has on his side the powerful archmage Murgen and his disciple ShimrodThe ladies are as strong and interesting as the men Melancthe the Galateea created by the witch Desmei as a revenge against men unbearably beautiful but completely devoid of emotions Tatzel the warrior princess of the Ska raiders proud and merciless with both her enemiesand her tentative suitors the gentle and melancholic Glyneth the golden maiden who is relegated to the role of damzel in distress yet still manages to show initiative and courageMy favorite episodes in the novel the introduction with the fate of the Green Pearl as it passes from one hand to another bringing misfortune and despair to all who touch it the romantic journey of Aillas and Tatzel full of perils yet maintaining a humorous tone and elaborate turns of phrase the vain attempts of Shimrod to find a flutter of emotion in Melancthe empty breast the whole journey into the alternative realm of Tanjecterly weird and incredible than any other I have yet read from Vance with its own romantic subplot between Gwyneth and Kul her golem like guardian Last but not least I have enjoyed returning to the faery fairs in the middle of the Tantrevalles forest where anything could happen and where Zuck and his fellow merchants will sell weird stuff than you can imagineThere s not much to say about the plot even when things were going nowhere I was still captivated by the language and the humorous twists of fate similar often to the adventures of the likable rogues from the Dying Earth series On the serious side of the epic there s a lot of death and foreshadowing of doom to balance the lighter tone of many of the passages There is also some food for thought on contemporary issues if the reader is inclined to pursue them I hereby declare torture in all its categories to be a capital offense punishable by death and confiscation of property Aillas uncompromising stance on the subject of torture His subjects espoused a variety of beliefs Zoroastrianism a whiff or two of Christianity Pantheism Druidical doctrine a few fragments of classic Roman theology somewhat of the Gothic system all on a substratum of ancient animism and Pelasgian Mysteries Such a melange of religions suited King Casmir well despite being the of ancient animism and Pelasgian Mysteries Such a melange of religions suited King Casmir well despite being the overlord of the epic Casmir gets some bonus points for arguing in favor of religious tolerance and diversityConclusion Highly recommended to readers interested in adventure and beautiful prose than a tight plot To be read together with the other Lyonesse books And now that we ve entered firmly into the mid eighties Fantasy I m startled by just how much a giant "like Vance was either influenced by or was the influencer of such notable as many many of "
Vance was either by or was the influencer of such notable works as many many of DD compendiums After all hasn t he been around so much longer Ah but never mind thatWhat we ve got is not dwarves and elves in a fantastic other realm but a continuation of the Gaelic isles the Elder Realm the lost continent near Avalon with christian priests still blackmailing ingdoms still plotting and parentages still not nown to all the pertinent peoples The plots are delightful and adventuresome when they re not political and crafty and when they re not adventuresome they re still magical Ten Realms so much so and full of confidence games tricksters and Fae And even ings play these same games Most impressively at least for me is the clever and clear and pertinent retellings of old fairy tales yet again including the redoubtable Green Pearl that enhances greed and bad luck various old tales of mistaken identities and yeah I m looking at you Murgen and so many other interspersed tales that I cannot even begin to crow about because they should all be savored and enjoyedThis may take place hundreds of years before Arthur but it is no less delightful or lacking in any way when it comes to the sheer weight of myth great characters and sheer enjoymentAnyone looking for some great fantas. Reen Pearl enters their soulsIts menas are subtle but its effects are great and as the Kings of Elder ready their swords even the worlds of the immortals tremb. T
imately failing now trying to depict a rise to power who usually portrays sex as a lewd joke but is now trying to capture deeper romantic feelingsIt s all outside of his comfort zone which is why the true surprise is that he did so well with this experiment in the first book Then again the second volume in a trilogy is notorious for lagging and struggling along between the promise of the opening and the excitement of the climax I m still intrigued to see where this experiment ultimately ends up Damn it Jack VanceYour 1983 Lyonesse novel Suldrun s Garden was a mix match of good bad and ugly but good enough to leave me curious about the next bookThe 1985 seuel Th This second volume in the series begins with a flashback which gives additional information on something already covered in book 1 It seems that the sorcerer Tamurello who has been an opponent of the helpful sorcerer Shimrod and his patron was behind the decision of the witch Desmei to split herself into three components Melancthe who seems stupefied by ennui as Desmei was as a result of Tamurello s spell and has already acted as his pawn against Shimrod Carfilhot who was nown for his cruelties until he was finally defeated and executed in book 1 and a green vapour which had been breathed in by Carfilhot and was released at his death That vapour which is the essence of evil went into the ocean and became a green pearl so in this volume it is retrieved by a fisherman after being swallowed by a fish and brings him and others to death and disasterHowever the story soon leaves the tale of the pearl for some time and returns to King Aillas and his attempts to bring order to his new ILLERAMMA Kathalu
kingdom in South Ulfland which has been beset by the ruthless Ska invaders who had enslaved him in book 1 Also his enemy King Casmir who was responsible for his own daughter s misery and death is still conspiring against Aillas and trying to discover who is the father of the girl whom he believes to be his daughter s Suldrun s child but whom as revealed in book 1 is a changeling swapped for her son Dhrun That son his growth accelerated by his year with the fairy folk is now with Aillas as is Glyneth the friend who helped Dhrun on his search for his father Casmir also wants to find out who Dhrun s mother was and engages Visbhume a minor sorcerer a vile character who is a sexual predator of young girls to find out And Visbhume eventually targets GlynethI was confused at the beginning where Casmir pays a state visit to Aillas they have a temporary truce because at the end of book 1 the villainous priest who betrayed Aillas and Suldrun actually told Casmir He seemed incredulous but at least I would have expected him to remember what the priest had said and wonder about it when he comes face to face with Aillas and thinks he looks familiarThe part of the book where Visbhumeidnaps Glyneth and takes her to another world where he attempts to extort the secret from her and to assault her and is continually thwarted by a being sent into that world who combines the virtues of certain others plus the stalwart courage and love of Aillas does become a bit long and drawn out It is also a bit irritating that characters such as Glyneth remain naive and prone to falling for the ploys of those that they now are totally evil It was believable in book 1 when Glyneth was a child but not when she is a grown woman and that character has already wrecked havocTherefore although this was an enjoyable read with plenty of incident the flaws in the story mean that it balances out at a 3 star read for me ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy LiteratureThe Green Pearl is another engrossing adventure in Jack Vance s whimsical world This installment of Lyonesse mainly follows Aillas now King of Troicinet as he seeks revenge on the Ska tests his infatuation with Tatzel deals with a couple of traitors and tries to thwart the ambitions of King Casmir of Lyonesse who unbeknownst to Casmir is Aillas s son s grandfather We also spend uite a bit of time with Shimrod Glyneth Melancthe and some new and excellent characters such as the duplicitous innkeeper Dildahl the dogged but distractible Visbhume and The Notable and Singular Zuck Dealer in Objects Uniue Under the FirmamentThere are two main reasons that I love Lyonesse First I admire Vance s florid imagination His world and its creatures are uniue and while not as bizarre as Lewis Carroll s there s plenty of weirdness Second I love Jack Vance s odd but irresistible style There s no message no lesson no pretensions it s just pure fast paced entertainment But best of all Vance s deliberately peculiar and droll prose makes me laughA crippled ex soldier named Manting for ten years had served the county as executioner He did his work efficiently and expunged Long Liam s life definitely enough but in a style uite devoid of that extra element of surprise and poignancy which distinguished the notable executioner from his staid colleague then Manting comes into POSSESSION OF THE GREEN PEARL WHICH LONG LIAM HAD
of the Green Pearl which Long Liam had Thereafter all who watched Manting declared that they had never seen the executioner s work done with grace and attention to detail so at times Manting and the condemned man seemed participants in a tragic and attention to detail so at times Manting and the condemned man seemed participants in a tragic which set every heart to throbbing and at last when the latch had been sprung or the blow struck or the torch tossed into the faggots there was seldom a dry eye among the spectatorsAnd the dialog is truly humorous so many authors try but Vance gets it right Just two short examples The barber said politely Sire I suggest that you hold your feet motionless while I am cutting your toenails When the beautiful but empty headed Melancthe tries to seduce Shimrod he says My character is intensely strong and my will is like iron still I see no reason to demonstrate their strength needlesslyAgain I shake my head in bewilderment that this charming trilogy can not be acuired by the usual book obtaining methods What a shameRead my other Jack Vance reviews This is my favorite of the Lyonesse books and probably my favorite thing in the world Like Twitten s Almanac it is a work of great complexity and inner coherence Like Melancthes precious and remarkable flowers it is an exuisite work of startling distinction that exudes a multitude of strange and fascinating odors each purporting entire cascades of meaning and meanings of meanings and each bringing various and surprising dreams some of which exceed the limits of imagination Another great entry into the Lyonesse series that avo. Werful magic of sorcerers living and forgottenNow as Aillas of Troicinet and Casimir of Lyonesse parry and feint in a duel of wits the mysterious aura of the