Here's his description of Shimrod's excursion to another world: He apprehended a landscape of vast extent dotted with isolated mountains of gray-yellow custard, each terminating in a ludicrous semi-human face. All faces turned toward himself, displaying outrage and censure.
Some showed cataclysmic scowls and grimaces, others produced thunderous belches of disdain. The most intemperate extruded a pair of liver-colored tongues, dripping magma which tinkled in falling, like small bells; one or two spat jets of hissing green sound, which Shimrod avoided, so that they struck other mountains, to cause new disturbance.
And here is part of King Casmir's lecture to his daughter Suldrun when she announced that she's not ready to get married: That is sentiment properly to be expected in a maiden chaste and innocent. I am not displeased. Still, such qualms must bend before affairs of state Your conduct toward Duke Carfilhiot must be amiable and gracious, yet neither fulsome not exaggerated. Do not press your company upon him; a man like Carfilhiot is stimulated by reserve and reluctance.
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Still, be neither coy not cold Modesty is all very well in moderation, even appealing. Still, when exercised to excess it becomes tiresome. If you can find a used copy of Suldrun's Garden, the first of the Lyonesse trilogy, snatch it up. There are some available on Amazon and there's a kindle version, too. Beware the Fantasy Masterworks version, which is known to have printing errors.
Jack Vance is original; You won't get his books confused with anyone else's. This is beautiful work for those who love excellent fantasy literature! Read this review in context at Fantasy Literature. View all 8 comments. May 14, Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: worldbuilding-sf , fantasy , shelf. What a wonderful surprise! For an early eighties fantasy, it reads rather fantastically easy, with a near perfect blend of adventure, spry heroes and heroines, and an almost mythical command of myth, history, and magic in a hugely creative blend.
We're not even bogged down in any such weird concepts like "historical accuracy", either. And actually, I loved the whole idea of slap-dashing a whole continent next to Gaul and throwing in Merlin Murgen , Mithra, evil christians, the fae, chivalr Wow. And actually, I loved the whole idea of slap-dashing a whole continent next to Gaul and throwing in Merlin Murgen , Mithra, evil christians, the fae, chivalry, high Celts, and so much more.
None of it overwhelmed the taste of adventure, where three kingdoms vied, played, made alliances, and started wars during a span of 30 years, and the characterizations were pure fantasy boilerplate, but lest you get turned off by that idea, just know that they all go through tons of changes Is that a problem? Hell no. Not for me.
I was actually rather amazed at the sheer scope of where we started, from a princess's childhood Suldrun , her setup as a fairytale, then the betrayal of her wonderful prince Aillas , their love, and their tragedy merely sets the stage, even if it takes up a sizable portion of the book. The rest of the tale happens to be one of the best written and most imaginative, quickly paced, and thoroughly satisfying traditional fantasy novels I've ever read, staying firmly on the road of adventure, adventure, adventure.
Aillas's tragedy is only the starting point, after all, and making a ladder out of bones is just the beginning, especially after he learns that his lost Suldrun had a child. Tons of trigger points for me, and I've never gotten tired of such tales. I just can't believe how awesome the adventure was, or just how much was accomplished all the way to a mostly happy ending. And now that I've finished the first book in the trilogy and loved it, I have absolutely no reason not to enthusiastically dive into The Green Pearl.
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Feb 04, Algernon Darth Anyan rated it it was amazing Shelves: Centuries in the past, at that middle-distant time when legend and history start to blur, Blausreddin the pirate built a fortress at the back of a stony semi-circular harbor Blausreddin plays no further role in the present story, but his fortress eventually evolved into a city of fame and wonder : Lyonesse, the capital of the Elder Isles, an imaginary archipelago in the Atlantic, somewhere off the coasts of Britain and Bretagne.
As for the period in which the adventure takes place, the meeti Centuries in the past, at that middle-distant time when legend and history start to blur, Blausreddin the pirate built a fortress at the back of a stony semi-circular harbor As for the period in which the adventure takes place, the meeting of legend and history is set a couple of generations before the advent of King Arthur and his Knights.
Lyonesse: Book 1 - Suldrun's Garden
Here in the Elder Isles there is to be found the original Round Table, a symbol of both leadership and power sharing that the kings of Lyonesse misplaced into the custody of a rival kingdom. The reader will get a chance to get familiar with all of them over the next three ample volumes. The Arthurian Round Table and the quest of King Casmir of Lyonesse to recover it will form the main theme of the trilogy, but on this basic frame Jack Vance builds a meandering and many branched tale, often taking detours and sidetrips to explore the many natural wonders, the magical features and the curious habits of the people of the Elder Isles.
This apparent lack of focus and leisure pacing has given reason to some reviewers more concerned about linear storytelling to give a lower rating, but in my case it has provided an immersive experience and a continuous sense of wonder at the imaginative powers of the author, already evident in his other major series about The Dying Earth. Other similarities to that collection of stories include the numerous amoral protagonists, the wicked sense of humour, the elaborate and formal use of language, the gateways to parallel worlds and a pervasive melancholy, a sense of a doomed world that shines more brightly in its last flowering before a cataclysm or simple forgetfulness will erase it from our history books.
To the north the Sfer Arct passed between the crags Maegher and Yax: petrified giants who had helped King Zoltra Bright Star dredge Lyonesse Harbor; becoming obstreperous, they had been transformed into stone by Amber the sorcerer: so the story went. The short quote above illustrates how each turn in the road, each meadow in the forest and each mountain crag in the Elder Isles has a history, a hidden danger, a trace of magic infusing and defining its nature.
The actual plot is so convoluted that I am having a bit of trouble knowing where to start, or how much to tell without spoiling the fun of discovery. Nominally, the first volume is about Suldrun, the beautiful, whimsical and sad daughter of the ambitious King Casmir of Lyonesse. A free spirit, she feels imprisoned in the sombre castle Haidion, roaming the cold stone halls in search of adventure.
Her mother wants her to show proper deportment and her father desires to give her in marriage in exchange of political advantages, but Suldrun is reluctant to leave one gilded cage for another.
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From the unequal conflict of wills with her father, she is banished to a secluded spot of the palace grounds, the only place where she can find peace and solitude: an abandoned inlet of the sea under the palace walls that she tranforms into her personal garden. In here she will eventually learn both about true love and despair.
Her tragic fate is hinted at early in the novel, as she comes across Persillian, a talking mirror with powers of prophecy, who shows her the face of a future lover, then mocks her following inquiries: From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue — all as perversity strikes me. Now I am silent; this is my mood. While Suldrun languishes in her hidden garden, Aillas, Shimrod and the others roam the countryside far and wide, facing dangers from mortal and supernatural enemies.
The one aspect of the world that remains in my mind at the end of the book, is the lack of a clear moral dividing line, the fickleness of destiny and the way bad things happen to innocent and guilty parties indiscriminately. As one of the wizards, Tamurello, remarks: What a strange and unfamiliar world if everyone were treated according to his desserts!
Lyonesse will enchant you with its wonders, but will also break your heart when one of your favorite characters draws the short stick of chance. Until I return with the second installment, I will dwell for a time at the Inn of the Laughing Sun and the Crying Moon , deep in the Forest of Tantrevalles, waiting for the Midsummer Night and the festival that usually takes place at a nearby crossroads.
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View all 10 comments. If Lyonesse were a food, it would be: Bits of different kinds of things all thrown into one receptacle but where you can still taste each individual food item, all smothered with custardy gooey goodness. So, how about a Lyonesse recipe you ask?
View all 3 comments. It is also book one in the Lyonesse trilogy. Lyonesse was one of ten minor kingdoms on a large fictional island and some nearby smaller ones called the Elder Isles, situated to the west of Old Gaul The actual United Kingdom in the Atlantic. The Elder Isl 'Suldrun's Garden' is written with an amazingly huge number of disguised and re-imagined classic fairy-tale tropes using many of the non-fiction historical soap operas of England's actual royal families as a platform for the fictional plots. The Elder Isles are today sunk under the sea, like the famous city of Atlantis, the small realms which each of the ten kings' held on their apportioned acreage on the divided island and their individual strivings for power living on in legends only.
Many of the ancient tales seem to begin with Lyonesse at the center of the stories, either because its ambitious kings started much havoc in their attempts to control all of the Elder Isles or because of ruthless people who begin putting nefarious activities into play around Lyonesse by chance. The book describes a series of events which are begun by the birth of neglected and unappreciated Suldrun, princess and daughter of the crowned heads of Lyonesse - King Casmir and Queen Sollace. Princess Suldrun becomes increasingly disobedient as she grows up, but she can never overcome her parents' authority in a large way.
Only a son can be heir to the throne of Lyonesse. Suldrun remains of value only as a pawn her father uses to dangle possible political alliances in discussions for trade, military support and power.
When she finally defies her expected role, it sets in motion a set of unexpected outcomes and journeys for many other characters, some of whom do not appear linked to Lyonesse or Suldrun at all. Jack Vance has created a fictional world so complete I forgot it was entirely imaginary until the intrusion of magical creatures and magicians. Maps, glossaries, and a history of infamous kings similar to those of the real European Middle Ages who constantly plotted against their neighbors for generations of skirmishes and warfare added to the effect of verisimilitude.
Daughters and sons of kings find themselves used as chess pieces in ultimately meaningless but painfully life-altering political games involving marriage to seal alliances between frenemy kingdoms, which do not ever seem to go well in fact or fiction. Commoners who serve their royal leaders live or die from whimsical commands and perceived slights, but common folk still suffer even if they live far away from the Royal castle on farms and in towns, attacked by brigands, murderers and thieves.
Everybody, including Kings, are afraid of the magical beings and creatures living in woods and other places. Magicians and witches of various strengths are almost as feared as the ten hereditary kings.
Related Suldruns Garden: Lyonesse Book 1
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