The Demon Princes Volume One, Jack Vance, Orb, ISBN 0-312-85302-5, $18.95, 445 pgs., The Demon Princes Volume Two, Orb, ISBN 0-312-85316-5, $18.95, 397 pgs

Cover of "The Book of Dreams (The Demon P...

Cover via Amazon

These two oversized paperbacks actually consist of the following five novels: The Star King, The Killing Machine, The Palace Of Love, The Face, and The Book Of Dreams.  These novels have been available as individual books, in various forms and from various publishers, since the early 1960’s.  Such staying power says a great deal about the writing between the covers and perhaps more about the man behind the words.  Additionally I would imagine that one of the main definitions of ‘classic’ would be a books’ remaining in almost constant publication.

I suppose I should also note here that I have been a Jack Vance fan long before he published his 30th book and even longer before he was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writer’s Association.  Vance is only the fourteenth such author to be so honored.  I don’t know why they waited even that long.  Vance is a writer who has won all the awards; Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Edgar.  Vance is a writer who has toiled for better than five decades at his craft, the past decade or so with failing eyesight.  Vance is one of the more literate writers that Science Fiction can lay claim to.

If you’re wondering why I am spending so much time talking about Vance instead of talking about the books, it is very hard to separate the author from the art.  Vance does not so much write as caress words onto the page.  Vance’s style is fluid, his dialogue melodic, his plotting first rate and his story telling nearly epic in scope.  Vance is a writer who is not afraid of putting his ‘common’ man in the very big picture.  This is the basis of the Demon Prince novels which encompass the very big story of said Princes who are a race of beings disguising themselves as humans and delighting in power and destruction.  One of the lesser beings, indistinguishable to the Princes, is Kirth Gersen (and you either hate or love Vance’s names) who has had not only his family killed by the Princes but his world as well.  Needless to say, Kirth is pissed and out for vengeance.  Kirth roams the universe, in his pocket is a list with five names–each a Demon Prince.  Coincidentally, Vance has five novels, each a story of Kirth’s hunting and confronting a Demon Prince.

You read Vance not merely for the story he weaves but for his use of language.  There is, perhaps, no greater wordsmith active today.  If a word does not exist, Vance will create it.  If a place needs naming, Vance will discover it.  If a language needs rhythm, Vance will find it.  Vance has an eye for structure and an ear for elegance.  Vance is actually almost more enjoyable read out loud.  Vance is, in fact, fun to read, period.

There are Vance books which better represent his plotting and there are Vance books which showcase his language manipulation and word creation and there are Vance books which shine with his talent at naming.  The Demon Princes books are perhaps the best example of Vance running on all cylinders.  These five books, collected here in two volumes, showcase one of the better writers of the current millennium.

Some of Vance’s others books include the Planet Of Adventure series; the Alastor series; Araminta Station, Big Planet, Ecce and Old Earth. Green Magic, The Last Castle and his most recent, Night Lamp.

To order your copy of volume one, click here The Demon Princes, Vol. 1: The Star King * The Killing Machine * The Palace of Love
To order your copy of volume two, click here The Demon Princes, Vol. 2: The Face * The Book of Dreams

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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