Star King, The by Jack Vance

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Book Information  
AuthorJack Vance
TitleStar King, The
SeriesDemon Princes
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous 
(Dec 09, 2005)

Star King is the first novel in Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series.

Kirth Gersen, with his grandfather, survived the infamous Mount Pleasant Massacre -
a slaving raid carried out in a lawless part of space known only as Beyond. The raid was nothing new. What made it unusual was the participation and co-operation of five of the most notorious criminals then known to man, the infamous Demon Princes.

Then a child, Gersen was raised by his grandfather to possess all the skills needed to avenge his parent’s death. The Demon Princes series is the story of his pursuit.

This is space opera in the best tradition of Jack Vance: laconic in style and filled with trademark inventiveness. The Star King introduces us to Kirth Gersen, and his first adversary – Attel Malagate The Woe, who belongs to a mysterious humanoid race, the Star Kings.

The Star King is a page-turner. It is tightly plotted, high paced and short (coming in at a little over 200 pages). Vance gives the impression that he is less interested in characters than in systems, races and cultures. Gersen, who for obvious reasons in the most developed character in the novel, is at best cursorily described. He is a monomaniac: long on mission; short on leisure, with occasional moral qualms. The rest of the characters, tend to fall into type: evil overlord; evil henchmen; expendable associate, obstructive bureaucrat or attractive woman.

Having said all that, The Star King works – and pretty well at that. It follows in a long line of novels about resourceful men surviving hostile circumstances by having a purpose and living on their wits.

Is it the best Jack Vance has to offer? Probably not. Is it quintessential Jack Vance? Yes. Is it enormous fun? Definitely.

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