Jubal Droad leaves home and becomes a spy, but is caught up in complex and bizarre intrigues.
Vance novels are usually worth reading for the fantastic language and wordplay alone, and this is no exception. Maske also contains the usual tropes of disaffected wealth, disillusioned youth, and a fair amount of no-longer-appropriate sexism. It also has, however, one of Vance’s more human and likable protagonists.
In brief, Jubal, from a disadvantaged group, sets out on a wanderjahr to find fame, fortune, and his way in the world. He encounters and employs the usual Machiavellian tricks, but eventually wins through. Aside from a brief excursion, the action takes place on one world.
If not highly different from Vance’s other work, Maske is at least as enjoyable, and in some ways a more sympathetic read. I recommend it to all Vance fans. If you’re not one yet, this is a good place to start.