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Araminta Station :The Cadwal Chronicles Book 1 [Paperback]

Jack Vance
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: New English Library, Sevenoaks (1 Mar 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450423786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450423789
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent SF 19 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Set about 1500 years in the future, when humanity has colonised a large number of worlds and is no longer one species, this is a stunning first book in a brilliant trilogy. The murder mystery elements come second to the description of people, places and histories the author describes. The details of the beaurocracy and the organisation class society are the driving motor of the planet, and the conflict engendered by that make for an intricate plot. An excellent book, I couldn't wait for ther sequel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance at his best 25 April 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Another superb offering from the master of fantsy, this tale follows the adventures of young Glawen Clattuc and his life on the world of Cadwal. The planet Cadwal has been declared a natural preserve, and human exploitation is rigorously controlled by the single settlement of Araminta Station. Vance once again creates wholly believable and incredibly complex cultures, both human and otherwise, with a degree of detail not found in other authors works. A master of description, he creates a world that at first you want to visit, and leaves you feeling like you have really been there. This tale of mystery, with it's many twists and turns, is a must for all Jack Vance fans; for anyone who is not familiar with him, then this may be the book to convert you!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars highly readable and enjoyable 3 May 2006
By RAMON
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is book is typical Jack Vance: it dwells on the problems which arise from human idyosincrasy and also on the wonders of nature and human kindness. There's much fiction, but little hard SF: few interspace travel or gadgets or genetic experiments running amok, and technologically one cannot avoid a smile once and again.

The plot is simple: planet Cadwal is a museum world, a planetary nature reserve in charge of a peculiar Curator Office, manned by the heirs from the initial scientific group which studied the planet. There are several problems: the Charter of conservacy will soon expire and there's greed to exploit the planet evident natural resource; there's dissent among the ruling families and those who are expelled from that elite by the hard hereditary rules to stay into the Office; and the increasing problem of the working underclass called "yips". One would think that Vance wrote the novel thinking of later enviromental debates.
There's murder, there's kidnap, there's romance, conspiration... and also a typical set of vancian characters: corageous, unselfish, practical, matter of fact. And a wonderful world unspoiled by mankind but also a hughe bouty. Surprisingly, the "enviromental" movement is embraced by conservative heroes, and the liberals carry the worst part for longing for developement and free enterprise. How times have changed!
This is book is not complete, but a part of a saga (the others are "Ecce and Old Earth" and "Throy"). However this is the best novel of the three, because Vance didn't write them continuously and the series loses momentum towards the end.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 4 Jan 2004
Format:Hardcover
This book will literally keep you awake all night.
Volume one of the Cadwal trilogy, it tells the story of Glawen Clattuc, growing up on the planet Cadwal which is essentially a planetary nature reserve, or conservancy. The tale unfolds with books two and three, but I do think the first book is the best of them. Certainly this book is one of Jack Vance's best, which in itself says alot, and its a must have for any fan of his work. Buy it now. Then but books two and three!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best science fiction books I have ever read. 11 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is the first of trilogy which concerns a whole world devoted solely to a "conservancy" established to preserve the flora and fauna of the world Cadwal. The main characters are as intriguing as the subject matter, and the comings and goings of the most daring members of the families who enforce and enjoy the "Cadwal Charter" are vastly amusing. There is a little of everything in these books: science fiction, of course, but also, murder, mystery, romance, and many other things. I, myself, believe this book and the other two in the series to be the best books Jack Vance ever wrote.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vance in Vance form 1 Nov 2005
By not4prophet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Araminta Station" has a large cast of spirited characters, a plot with enough complexity to match "Dune", an array of bizarre human and alien behaviors and a tone that's one hundred percent Jack Vance. This adventure takes us to the planet Cadwal, which was permanently placed under the control of the Naturalist Society to preserve its great natural beauty. The official charter limits it to 240 inhabitants and their families, divided into six bureaus and structured on a rigid social system. Everyone knows their place, or at least is supposed to. But as usual, problems develop. A young officer named Glawen Glattuc finds himself dealing with family feuds, dangerous rivalries, political intrigue and a major crime spree while also swimming through the confusing currents of adolescent life, which remain quite similar on any planet.

Any detailed discussion would rob you of the delights of discovering this novel's twists and turns for yourself. I can, however, hit some of its main strengths. Of course at 554 pages in hardback, "Araminta Station" is longer than a typical Vance outing. Vance makes good use of this space. The plot is full of surprises, as entirely new aspects arise at the most unexpected moments. Moreover, Vance fully incorporates everything in the story. For instance we have the Yips, a race living on a remote island who perform the menial labor on Cadwal. They have a society packed with Vance-style weirdness (celebrating the foul odor known as the "Big Chife" and charging tourists money to see women doing the laundry) but also a role in the story. Yip maneuvers pop up to complicate life for the Clattucs at the most inconvenient times. (The Yip element also provides a surprising degree of relevancy in an age when we Americans all claim to hate illegal Mexican immigrants yet willingly enjoy the cheap labor that they provide.)

Dominating it all, however, is the unmistakable Jack Vance tone. Unmistakable, I say, yet who can really pinpoint precisely how Vance makes his voice so unique? We can say this much. In "Araminta Station", as in any Vance book, the heroes are a small handful of tough, intelligent, resourceful and clever individuals. Arrayed against them we find all manner of inferiors: murderers, criminals, con artists, ostentatious braggarts, political loons, religious fanatics, the petty, the weak and the stupid. A decently large chunk of the book shows us the good guys dealing with this scum. Vance's heros, if not sarcastic, are at least single-minded in the way they push through the rabble to do what must be done. The wit and wisdom of Vance lies in communication. How do people at cross purposes interact with each other? What happens when conversation becomes more like a battle? Almost every page of "Araminta Station" produces a notable quote. Here are a few:

"Whatever you have heard about me, dismiss it. I do not regard my class as a confrontation between the clear light of my intellect and twenty-two examples of sloth and willful stupidity. The exact number may be only half that, if we are lucky, and of course varies from term to term. Despite all, I am a kindly man, patient and thorough, but if I must elucidate the obvious more than twice, I often become gloomy." (p. 228)

"You are a willful young devil. If insolence were bricks and insubordination were mortar you could build a great palace for yourself." (p. 351)

Glawen said, "I believe that safety is important. It is better to arrive alive than dead."

"This is exactly my point," said Bant. "I have explained this to Esmer: what is the value of thirty minutes, more or less, to a corpse? He is already late and no longer in a hurry. The time is more useful on this side of the veil, such is my belief." (p. 491)

"The theft of this cloak from Arles' room will cause consternation but no surprise, and Arles will learn to dress more modestly in the future."

Kirdy gave a dry chuckle. "Arles might even volunteer his cloak, were he asked."

"Possibly, but when one asks permission, one often gets no for an answer. As it is, Arles has not specifically forbidden us the cloak, which is good enough for me." (p. 250)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, delightfully urbane, witty and complex 14 Jun 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great novel. This is the first Jack Vance novel that I have ever read, yet already I think that he is one of my top 10-15 SF authors.
Jack Vance is one of the old-timers (he's been around since the fifties), and he appears to have pefected his craf...I don't understand why he doesn't get the respect he deserves.
This novel features, rich, rich dialogue, witty and entertaining. The plotting is a marvel, flowing and lifelike. Minor characters later turn out to be important...and other minor characters seem like they also could have become important.
In many ways, this novel reminded me of the seminal SF master, Edgar Rice Burroughs (another seriously maligned character...I personally consider his writing to be great literature, comparable with Dickens, Scott and the rest). The prose has a certain old-fashioned, 19th century slant.
Vance has a serious gift for names, placenames, and memorable aliens and planets.
Vance's prose is totally fluid and engaging...this is the kind of novel that requires me to read it in one single sitting.
Another sign of Vance's mastery is his perfect ability to craft the mood of the novel...on one hand, the first 1/2 of the book is pretty entertaining, even funny. There are numerous smiling points, and even a couple of parts that induce an out-loud chuckle. Vance definately can lull you into a sense of security, as the characters happily banter along, until suddenly WHAMMO! There is a brutal scene of violence, and one of the more likable major characters has died.
In summary, this truly is a great novel, I recommend it to all. You won't be dissapointed.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SF that even SF-haters love 16 Jan 2000
By Brett Evill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have lent copies of this book to several friends and relatives who thought that they didn't like science fiction. After they read it, they loved Vance. But this isn't anaemic half-hearted SF: SF fans love it too.
Jack Vance is best known for being able to dash off an entire, bafflingly alien yet utterly logical, culture in a brief paragraph. He is also known for virtuoso use of vocabulary and for a lurid palette: a Vance description is often an interior-decorator's nightmare. If you want that sort of thing, read the 'Demon Princes' series. This Vance is different.
In 'Araminta Station' Vance turns his skills to a much smaller canvas. He proves as masterly on Jane Austen's two inches of ivory as he has already proven in brightly-coloured novel series that span planets at least. The protagonist, Glawen Clattuc, grows up in a small community: the ranger station on a world set aside as a wildlife preserve. The dozen characters who influence his life are drawn with the deftest of touches as Vance displays a previously-unexpected subtlety of dialogue, the ability to write several characters who are all witty but in different styles.
Vance uses less spectacular language in 'Araminta Station' than in his earlier books. His word choice is always perfect, but in this work he aims for a less striking effect, and proves to be as graceful a writer as you could ask for. Vance is always polished: in 'Araminta Station' he is smooth.
Don't fear that this novel will be too placid and bland for your taste. Glawen faces and endures the loss and hardship which seem to befall so many of Vance's heroes, and overcomes them by the familiar level-headedness and determination. Eventually high stakes are revealed and desperate action becomes necessary, which Glawen carries off with all the elan we have come to expect. The difference is primarily that Glawen is the Vance hero whom you will feel that you know best, and whose friends and enemies you will feel that you know best.
If you enjoy 'Araminta Station', I recommend the sequel: 'Ecce and Old Earth'. But don't race to buy the second sequel, 'Throy'. You may feel that the end of 'Ecce and Old Earth' is good enough. I found 'Throy' to be a bit of a disappointment.
I also recommend Vance's 'Alastor' novels (not a series) 'Marune', 'Wyst', and 'Trullion' to anyone who finds that 'Araminta Station' is outstanding Vance.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of the Cadwal Series 28 Nov 2009
By Gletkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Araminta Station is the first of Vance's excellent trilogy, telling the tale of Glawen Clattuc, starting with his youth at the headquarters of the Cadwal Conservancy, an organization chartered to maintain the ecological balance of an exotic world of the Gaean Reach. Glawen is witness to strange goings on involving his family, Conservancy members, their opponents in the hanging city of Stroma, and the exotic Yips, who seek land for expansion at any cost on Cadwal.

Vance's characterizations and settings are first-rate. Technology doesn't overwhelm story, as in so many lesser authors' planetary adventures. The story is set in the far future, when Earth is a bucolic backwater and mankind has spread throughout the galaxy. Interstellar travel is no more arduous or unusual than today's air travel.

Glawen's adventures on Cadwal are well told. His story takes the reader to a far flung and exotic locale, makes it real in the mind's eye, and carries us through a rousing adventure.
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