As I slowly make my way through A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool, I am already contemplating other reads. Fred Saberhagen’s Brother Assassin, the sequel to the excellent Berserker, looms large on my nightstand. And then there’s a pile of Vance books I’ve built over the past few months. The Last Castle and Lyonesse in particular tantalize me.
Alas, I’ve been busy with too many other things. T’is the dry season for reading.
It was interesting for me, as a short diversion, to revisit my first posts about Vance. The Gray Prince served as my initial exposure to his work, and I wasn’t always quite so fawning as I am now.
To be sure I eventually gave it full marks, but I do recall that The Gray Prince took some effort to read. If you’re not used to that elaborate world-building of his, it can be quite taxing as you strain at every drop he pours into his settings. Eventually you learn to just bask in it and not cling so tightly to every made-up word.
Of special note:
First, the book is shorter than I was expecting. This isn’t a bad thing. It feels like every novel these days is at least 300 pages long. I’ve got queues of books to read, though – queues! This one weighs in at around 150ish pages, which is welcome.
It’s certainly very dense. Cirsova alludes to this fact in referring to the oddly numerous footnotes. I’m not opposed to this, but it does make for less of a relaxing scifi romp and more of a labor.
Even back in 2016 I was amazed at this new (old) word economy I was beginning to discover.
If you’ve never read any Vance, I don’t know that I’d recommend starting here unless you’re a really big Morrowind fan. But that said, I’m not sure there’s really a bad place to begin with him. Just some really superior ones.