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on 19 October 2003
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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on 25 April 2002
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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on 3 May 2006
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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on 4 January 2004
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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