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Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
Jack Vance
Gollancz, 436 pages

Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
Jack Vance
John Holbrook Vance was born in 1916. Over a career spanning many decades, he has garnered many honours. They include the Edgar Award in 1960, the Hugo Award in 1963 and 1967, the Nebula Award in 1966, the Jupiter Award in 1975, the Achievement Award in 1984, the GilgamXs Award in 1988, the World Fantasy Award in 1990, and the Grand Master Award in 1997. He has used many pseudonyms including Alan Wade, Peter Held, John Holbrook and John van See. Jack Vance's original manuscripts for several of his books are kept at Boston University's main library in the manuscripts department.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Night Lamp
SF Site Review: Tales of the Dying Earth
SF Site Review: Big Planet
SF Site Review: Emphyrio
SF Site Review: Ports of Call
Jack Vance Tribute Site
Jack Vance Tribute Site
Jack Vance Retrospective

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

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It is damnably difficult to make the fantastical into the real. Too many fantasy writers have tried for the brass ring and failed miserably in the attempt.

Jack Vance did it.

The Lyonesse books, now reissued in the Fantasy Masterworks editions by Gollancz, succeed by quite simply taking a land which never really existed and treating it in such a matter-of-fact way that the reader is practically tricked into accepting the most outlandish magicks (and there are plenty of outlandish magicks in these books) at face value, and without blinking an eyelid. It feels like you're reading actual historical fiction. Vance's characters are real. They are as real as you or I. The fact that one of them is a master magician, another a scheming king, a third an arrogant and egotistical queen, the fourth a luminously transcendent princess and the fifth the ultimate Prince Charming is utterly irrelevant. These people are living real lives, and the act of opening the pages of Lyonesse is merely the act of opening a window through which it is possible to peek, unobserved, into their everyday existences.

But what everyday existences they are! The rollercoaster ride involving the Faery realm, dabblings with both black and white magic, changelings, and a range of pseudo-real peoples who all sound terribly familiar -- as though you've heard mention of all of them before, in some other history book somewhere -- is still as breath-taking today as it was when Suldrun's Garden, the first book in the Lyonesse trilogy, was published nearly twenty years ago. I still remember the joy with which I greeted this book when I first encountered it, back when it was a spanking-new, hot off the presses paperback. Encouraging the re-reading of gems like these is undoubtedly the rationale behind Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks initiative -- and in this book they have hit the gold standard of what a Fantasy Masterwork really is.

Vance's work stands the test of time. This one is a keeper.

Copyright © 2002 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.


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