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on 5 June 2012
This is a fantastic book which I enjoyed immensely. Vance paints amazing worlds which contain both
fascination and horror. In this book the main character Kirth Gersen continues in his mission to kill the five Demon Princes. In this book he is on his second Demon Prince "Kokor Hekkus" nicknamed "The Killing Machine". Unlike the first book "The Star King" Gersen shows his vulnerabilities and makes some mistakes, nearly resulting in his death. The book is fast moving and the descriptions of some of the technology i.e the intersplit (Vance's method of overcoming the old sci-fi problem of going faster than the speed of light) makes the book more rounded and interesting. I have been and remain a big fan of Vance's books and recommend this book to anyone who likes sci-fi together with a fast plot.
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on 1 September 2001
Kirth Gersen was nine years old when he and his grandfather escaped a raid that killed or enslaved their family and friends. The raiding party was organized and led by the five strange, deadly and anonymous criminals known as the Demon Princes. Since the raid Kirth was raised by his grandfather to fulfill one purpose; to seek out and destroy the Demon Princes and the next one on Kirth's list is Kokor Hekkus, the 'Killing Machine'.
Vance's Demon Princes stories are full of interesting small details not directly related to the main story line. These can be amusing, an alternative perspective, or add background but they enhance the Demon Princes stories and make it more enjoyable to read all five books.
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The book: Kirth Gersen is hunting the five Demon Princes - arch-criminals who have committed unspeakable crimes. Each of the five has ample means and vast networks of henchmen to protect themselves from any hunter; but Gersen is that arch-Vance character, a solitary, resourceful, very focused man. Through the Gaean Reach, from the Rigel Concourse to the lawless Beyond, he stalks his prey...
The Killing Machine (1964) is the second in a series of five and deals with Kokor Hekkus.

The author: Jack Vance (born 1916 and still writing, bless him!) travelled widely and served in the Merchant Marine. He published his first story in 1945.

My opinion: wonderful... I have read and re-read this book many times. I think Jack Vance is great, with his poetic descriptions, his wonderful inventiveness, his wry style, his names, his heroes... all of it, really. My favourites among his books are the four Tschai Planet books and these, the five Demon Princes novels. Great, timeless books - yes, space opera, but I love it! This particular one is one of my all-time Vance favourites.
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on 11 May 2014
This is one of those books that you can read again & again - I have, & will never tire of it. The number of ideas in this book would keep most authors going for a lifetime, but Vance crams it all in to a couple of hundred pages - talk about bang for your buck ! One of the main features, his creation of 'Interchange', a galactic centre for holding & ransoming kidnap victims, is just plain brilliant, as is the heroine of the piece, Alusz Iphigenia Eperje-Tokay, who claims to be a princess from a primative lost world of galactic myth, Thamber. This is classic Vance; effortless story-telling, wry humour, exotic cultures,locations & landscapes. The only pity is that he did not spin it out for another hundred pages or so. Although it is called SF, he is not really interested in technology, so unlike some of his contemporaries efforts, his work does not feel dated - it's just clever, interesting story-telling of a quality that's rarely matched & never surpassed. This is the 2nd of 5 in the Demon-Prince series, they are all worth a look & this is undoubtedly one of the best, maybe The Face just shades it to top spot.
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on 23 February 2014
In the second of the five Demon Princes novels, Kirth Gersen tracks Kokor Hekkus “the Killing Machine” to the mythical planet Thamber, in the company of that world’s most beautiful woman. There are some delightful ideas in this book – particularly Interchange, an organisation that acts as honest broker between kidnappers and those paying the ransom. However, it suffers in comparison with the first of the series (Star King) in that there are some longeurs, a with-one-bound-he-was-free plot device and a rather flat climax. Worse, there is far less of the author’s trademark idiosyncratic dialogue, which makes his better-known works such a pleasure to read. However, a Vance book is always enjoyable.
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on 7 June 2015
Arrived as promised. Birthday present for young adult who wanted to re-create her youth s she had already read other books in the series.
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on 21 January 2016
Another great story in the Demon Princes series...excellent.
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