Marune: Alastor 933 – Jack Vance

Marune_-_Alastor_933_-_Jack_Vance_cover
Alastor #2

An amnesiac slowly finds clues to his home planet and society.

Marune was one of the first Jack Vance books I ever bought. In fact, one of the first books of any kind I bought with my own money. I had no idea who Vance was, or what I was getting into. I don’t remember what drew me to the book. It may have been the Coronet cover, which had virtually nothing to do with the contents of the book. Whatever it was that made me pick the book, I’ve never regretted it. It was the start of a lifelong fascination with Vance’s writing.

An amnesiac turns up at a spaceport. Who is he? What to do with him? In what I now know to be classic Vancian style, no one wants him, and help is offered only reluctantly. In the course of finding the protagonist’s origins and past, Vance describes a society (the Rhunes) so unusual and compelling that their bizarre habits seem extraordinarily real. I remember to this day how my teenage heart was shocked and thrilled by the concept of ‘mirk’ (when all the suns are down).

Simply put, Marune is Jack Vance at his best. Even many decades after first reading the story, it stands up. It has every element that marked Vance as a genius. Ingenious vocabulary, strange cultures, mystery, intelligence, and a good story. And while Vance’s female characters weren’t always strong, Marune features a couple who are and who have distinct minds of their own.

All in all, one of the best books Jack Vance ever wrote, which is saying a heck of a lot. I don’t give five stars very often, but this is one I’d give 5+ to if I could. If you’ve never read Vance, this is a great place to start. If you know Vance and haven’t read this yet, get it now.Highly, highly recommended for everyone.

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