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The Demon Princes, vol. 1 [Paperback]

Jack Vance
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.97
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Book Description

Jun 1997 Demon Princes (Book 1)
Kirth Gersen carries in his pocket a slip of paper with a list of five names written upon it - the names of five Demon Princes. The Demon Princes are a race of beings who disguise themselves as humans and delight in power and destruction. However, to Kirth they are merely murderers who killed his family and destroyed his home planet - and who deserve to die for those misdeeds. Three have already fallen at Kirth's hands, but there are two more names on the list, two more Princes who will live only long enough to regret their evil ways. Lens Larque was just as unique as the other Demon Princes - uniquely appalling. Howard Alan Treesong poisoned his friends, tortured his colleagues, and wrote his own horrific holy book, The Book of Dreams. But, clever as he may be, a galaxy-wide guessing game will be his undoing - and Kirth Gersen's sworn vengeance will be complete.

Frequently Bought Together

The Demon Princes, vol. 1 + The Demon Princes: Volume 2 - The Face, The Book of Dreams + Emphyrio (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Price For All Three: 30.63

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 2nd edition (Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312853025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312853020
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 392,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Jack Vance is one of the truly important science fiction writers of our day." --"Los Angeles Times Book Review""Vance's descriptive eye is sharp, and his ear for the language is close to infallible." --"New York Newsday""(Vance has) a velvety elegance that rivals John Gielgud reciting poetry... One of the treasures of science fiction." --"Washington Post Book World"

About the Author

Jack Vance, born John Holbrook Vance in 1916, was one of the greatest masters of fantasy and science fiction. He was the winner of many awards for his work and career: the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Among his awards for particular works were the Hugo award in 1963 for "The Dragon Masters," in 1967 for "The Last Castle," and in 2010 for his memoir "This is Me, Jack Vance!" He won a Nebula Award in 1966 for "The Last Castle." He won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1990 for "Lyonesse: Madouc." . He also won an Edgar for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for "The Man in the Cage.""" Vance published more than 60 books in his long career, sometimes under pseudonyms. Among them were 11 mystery novels, three of them as Ellery Queen. He wrote some of the first, and perhaps best, examples of "planetary adventures," including a novel called" Big Planet." His "Dying Earth" series were among the most influential fantasy novels ever written, inspiring both generations of writers, and the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. Vance's series from Tor include "The Demon Princes," "The Cadwal Chronicles," "The Dying Earth," "The Planet of Adventure," and "Alastor." Vance's last novels were a series of two: "Ports of Call" and "Lurulu."Jack Vance was a sailor, a writer, an adventurer, a music critic, and a raconteur. He died in May 2013.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER
Jack Vance, one of the greatest writers of SF, created one of his masterpieces with the "Demon Princes" cycle. The hero, Kirth Gersen, is clearly and annoyingly superhuman, but that is finally a minor flaw - those books are much more about the atmosphere, the surrounding world, the dialogues and the (sometimes very dark) humour.

The story is quite dark - I had the impression that the entire universe is at the best a little shadowy, and for most time looks like a big version of dark, corrupted city from "Blade Runner", even when the action takes us to the jungle or a farmer's green world.

The villains (Demon Princes) are REALLY horrible people - that helps us to identify a little with the upsettingly perfect Kirth Gersen. I often have a soft spot for the "badguys" in SF books and movies - here they are simply despicable and very quickly I forgot my instinctive dislike of "supermen good guys" because I really wanted Gersen to get those @#%$!!

Also, the female characters are much better that the average SF babe or feminist scientist usually described in science-fiction - this talent in creating female characters (when concentrating on males as main heroes) always was Jack Vance strong point.

All in all, this is a must for every SF fan. They are amongst my most favourite books and I must confess that I read every one of the volumes of Demon Princes in one go. I simply couldn't sleep without knowing how it will end - and there are not so many books around that did that to me.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend returns to print. 19 April 1997
By A Customer
I was much younger when The Star King first appeared in Galaxy. I think the last of the five books (not included in this volume) appeared within the last ten years. John Holbrook Vance's style of writing is oddly stilted, but charming in these five books; the best of them, The Killing Machine, is included here, and the worst of them is no worse than very good. The Killing Machine includes fighting, killing, counterfeiting, kidnapping, theft by misdirection, and deliberate insult by the protagonist of long-established institutions (at least long-established in the future depicted), and is a story I told my children on a camping trip. Vance is now in his late 70's or 80's, and I'm not sure how many more of these treasures we may expect out of him; this makes the current volume all the more valuable. It is a collection of old friends, finally back in print; I will send the book to my fifteen-year-old daughter, who heard the story before she was ten from her father.

The Demon Princes series is a set of five novels about Kirth Gersen, whose home planet was invaded and whose inhabitants were massacred remorselessly by five arch-criminals known as the Demon Princes. His grandfather sees to his training as an assassin, and then turns him loose to find and kill each of the five. Each novel is the story of his action against one of the five.

I haven't yet laid my hands on a copy of this new volume, yet I am already looing forward to its successor.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous stories, very real characters 30 Aug 2001
By A Customer
I love most Jack Vance but the Demon Princes were among works from his most fertile period. He is so good with characters, I tend to look on his stories not so much as science fiction as lively adventures with marvellously shaped characters, good and bad, and landscapes from the ravishing to the frightening, so vivid you are as good as there. I might as well have travelled with Vance to Dar Sai and Methel and sat in "Tintle's Shade" (The Face, probably volume 2). His ability to paint atmospheres rather than just scenes, is a rare gift. I'm pleased that the denizens of his worlds have not surrendered to hi-tech for its own sake. For that reason, the tales simply don't seem to date. These stories bear repeated readings after an interval because there's always more to experience.
Roll-on, volume 2
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice Appetizer for Volume 2 26 April 2006
By N. Webb
I would agree with many others that ,taken as a whole, the Demon Prince series of books is Vance's best body of work & hardly a day goes by without me mentally thanking him for producing it. I consider the books to be old friends & revisit them regularly without ever tiring of their virtues. If you want to nitpick then fine,there are minor flaws, but if you want whimsical, thought-provoking stories packed with great ideas & told with considerable literary skill & no little wit then look no further. This volume of the 1st three stories is excellent value, although the stories themselves are of variable quality. Star King is the 1st but not the best of the stories. I gather that it grew from 2 or 3 short stories & it shows, but at least it gets the show on the road & has some great individual episodes. The best of the 3 is the 2nd, The Killing Machine, not as grisly a tale as the title might suggest & with possibly Vance's cleverest idea 'Interchange', a galactic centre for holding & ransoming kidnap victims - brilliant ! It also contains possibly the best description of single hand-to-hand combat that I have ever read, up there with stuff in Van Lustbader's 'Ninja'. The 3rd book starts very well, electrifying in places, with it's evocation of 'old Earth' & some tantalising & strange episodes. However, it does seem to run out of ideas towards the end, almost unheard of where Vance is concerned, & it's easy to see why he took a 10 year break before continuing the series. He clearly benefited from the break as you will see in Vol 2, which contains 2 of my all-time favourite stories of any genre. If you enjoy Vol 1 then you'll love Vol 2 & I would suggest reading that one with as little foreknowledge as possible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but I've read better
These are the first Jack Vance stories I have read. I prefer 'space opera' to hard SF and this is what drew me to them. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Stargazer
5.0 out of 5 stars Space Detective Opera
This is a collection of the first three "Demon Princes" novels, written in the 1960's, before Vance put aside the 70's to work on Alastor, Durdane and other novels. Read more
Published on 22 May 2012 by John Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best!!!!!
This is not the first time I buy this book.

This is simply one of the best from the best SF writer.

Just love Jack Vance.
Published on 14 May 2012 by L. Debbi
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and brilliant
In the Demon Princes series jack Vance perfects his ability to describe how people interact with one another under the most extraordinary circumstances. Read more
Published on 26 April 2009 by R. M. Van Kralingen
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a story, but a universe
The Demon Princes stories have been around for a long time, and are the best stories that you will ever read. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2008 by DaffyDuck
4.0 out of 5 stars good reading, good fun
Jack Vance is an ironic creator of worlds. His plots are not very subtle, the characters are sketched. Why then the enthusiasm? Read more
Published on 1 May 2006 by RAMON
1.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story of 70s Soft Science Fiction
The feel of technology in these books is quite alien to what you will read in hard science fiction novels, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as no one can perfectly predict... Read more
Published on 2 Sep 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A Science Fiction/Fantasy Classic
I endorse the comments of the previous reviewers, and give this book "only" four crowns inasmuch as I would like to think there is a five crown book still out there. Read more
Published on 19 April 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The best journey in the human being after Homer's Odissey
When I say Vance after Homer I mean chronologically only.

The time and the context are different but Keith Gersen is a modern Ulysses. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 1997
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