Saturday, April 24, 2010
Jack Vance's Demon Princes novels are without a doubt formulaic. In each Kirth Gersen goes after a different member of the gangster crew which destroyed his home world. In each book there is a criminal mastermind whose identity is concealed until nearly the end, when Gerson has a revelation of some sort and ends up getting his revenge.
The Face is the penultimate book of the five-part series. Though its plot is a bit like a late Dune novel (Financial Shenanigans of Dune, or Duncan Idaho, Corporate Raider) Vance manages to maintain interest with his imaginative and wholly original prose. My biggest complaint about these books versus Vance's exquisite Dying Earth novels is that Kirth Gersen is nowhere near as interesting as Cugel: the villains are more interesting characters than the hero. The final confrontation in The Face is, however, a great deal of fun, and though the resolution is completely ridiculous, Kirth demonstrates heretofor undetected depths by displaying a bit of sympathy for his quarry's audacious plans.