Son of the Tree – Jack Vance

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A traveler (Joe Smith) from Earth comes to the planet Kyril, home to a giant Tree served by the Druids, in turn served by the lower classes. Joe immediately finds himself in a complex and dangerous web of espionage and conspiracy involving three stellar systems tightly bound by economics. Joe, of course, has his own goals to serve as he tries to steer clear of plotting factions.

My Compact Vance Integral Edition purports to have all Vance’s work, and it does have a number of difficult to find titles, as well as some that I simply hadn’t come across before. Son of the Tree is one of the latter, and I looked forward to reading it. It wasn’t a disappointment, though it’s also not among Vance’s best.

This is relatively early Vance, before he had perfected his signature style. Still, the story has some of his usual touches.

This is a fairly straightforward adventure story. It’s interesting, but without the weird depths of Vance’s later work. Much of what happens is too simplistic or convenient to carry much impact, and the ending is far too pat. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable story and a pleasant read.

For those looking to while away some time with classic SF adventure, this is worth checking out. If you’re looking for the more classic Vance, save this book for another time.

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