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Lyonesse II: The Green Pearl and Madouc
Jack Vance
Gollancz, 776 pages

Lyonesse: The Green Pearl and Madouc
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: Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
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

There is something otherworldly about the Lyonesse books. That may sound oddly redundant, given that we are talking about a book of fantasy -- surely it is a given that we would be transported into another world. All fantasy aims for that (and good fantasy succeeds). But the mere transportation is not what I am talking about here. It's the sense that we aren't being told about an imaginary world. Instead, we somehow find ourselves in the real one, there between the covers of this book, while lurking in some other dimension which the inhabitants of Jack Vance's world would find passably peculiar.

In a world filled with imitators, writers with original voices this rich and strange are a rare and special breed indeed -- I could probably mention a bare handful. These are writers who do not merely string words and images together to patch together a different world. They themselves appear to have at one time lived, and sometimes still keep a current residence, there and their bone-deep conviction that it is, was, or might still be a reality seeps through into the reader when he picks up a book about such a world. I have absolutely no doubt, while enthralled by the Lyonesse books, that I am in fact reading some alternate history at whose unfolding I may not have been personally present but which is none the less real because of that. Warring kingdoms with resounding ancient names, changeling princesses, duelling sorcerers, tangled webs of politics and enchantment -- Vance treats things which are on the face of it strange and unbelievable with a glorious matter-of-factness that makes an instance of magic as easily acceptable as switching on the lights in our homes at night. It's the sense that everything is magic, or perhaps none of it is -- either way, it's merely a question of shifting your initial parameters and accepting what surrounds you as the definitive version of what's real, what's magic, and what's important.

Fantasy Masterworks has issued the first book in the series, Suldrun's Garden, in a single book but chose to issue the final two books, The Green Pearl and Madouc, in the Lyonesse trilogy in a satisfyingly fat volume which completes the saga in a single package. It's a collector's item. These books will find a permanent place of honour in my own collection, to be treasured and read and re-read, every time my belief in true magic needs nurturing and reinforcing.

They really are that good.

Copyright © 2003 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. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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