Having read close to ten Jack Vance books the last year I am close to getting a Vance overdose. And that’s a pity, because I like his rich universe filled with wonders. But there is just so much wonders one can take before being overwhelmed. Hence, I cannot really muster the spirit to report the Palace of Love other than in an offhandedly-short review.
It is the third of five books in the Demon Princes series and it pretty much follows the template of the earlier books: Kirth Gersen gets a lead to where a Demon Prince may be hiding and use all his smartness to get there and tick off one of his the archenemies. In this case the prince is Viole Falushe, known for his lusty hunger for pleasures and his Palace of Love where all things mortal can happen. A palace for the flesh and the sins.
The book is executed in traditional Vance style, filled with seldom used but lovely words. It is musty, rich and flamboyant – but also somehow give the impression of having been written with his left hand while his right hand was busy playing tennis. Simply, it doesn’t really come across as a genuinely wholehearted story. There is some sloppiness I cannot understand, for instance why he wanders away from the alien-breed origins of the Demon Princes and instead plant a story of a bullying boy turned maniac.
Moreover, our angry hero doesn’t really seem that angry anymore, just stubborn and single minded. Despite being awfully rich after the bank swindle in the last book he continues his quest, and in so doing also turn two beautiful women down – one in the beginning of the book and one in the end – both that wants to follow him on his travel. But he does kill Falushe. In style.
I probably should take a Vance break now. Probably, but perhaps not likely.
(2.5 out of 5 | sometimes wordsmithery isn’t enough)