One of the true challenges of reading High Fantasy, being fantasy stories set in imaginary worlds with epic events surrounding their main characters (for example, The Lord of the Rings), is finding titles which do not simply rehash the popular fiction already out there - for example, The Sword of Shannara (1977) is pretty clearly a knockoff of The Lord of the Rings, although its sequel, The Elfstones of Shannara (1982) does some pretty interesting and fascinating things that continued through the series.
As a longtime reader of the sub-genre, I have to say a lot of it is pretty repetitious, and for every great novel I find, there are sure to be five or six fairly low grade stories waiting for me in the wings.
Luckily for me, Jack Vance's Lyonesse is definitely one of the great ones. The story follows a large number of characters through the events surrounding a princess who refuses to play the role outlined for her by her birth. As that could also describe Disney's Brave (which I enjoyed, but as a family film), let me be clear, Vance has created a pretty in-depth and amazing world with multiple kingdoms, powers and beings, all of which have their own motivations and stories, and most importantly all of which fit together to tell a story that ranges from humorous and romantic to incredibly bleak and tear-jerking.
I actually picked the book because the third in the series Lyonesse: Maduac, won the World Fantasy Award in 1990, and I'm slowly but surely making my way through the list of winners. Vance is also well known for his series The Dying Earth and if it is anywhere near as good as I found Lyonesse, I'll be sure to be checking that out as well.
1 month ago