Wyst: Alastor 1716 – Jack Vance

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Alastor #3

Visiting a planet famed for egalitarianism, Jantiff Ravenstoke finds trouble with the locals.

Wyst is a much more straightforward story than either of its predecessors. While in Trullion and Marune weird games and cultures were front and center, this book uses an unusual setting largely as a backdrop for a mystery thriller. Jantiff Ravenstoke, on the thinnest of pretexts, visits the Arrabus region of Wyst, where egalitarianism is widely practice, but the search for ‘bonter’ (non-standard food) is a driving force. Jantiff is unprepared, gets into trouble, and fights his way back, on the way uncovering a dastardly plot. The backdrop is fun, and the story is enjoyable, but for Vance, this is a fairly mediocre effort. It’s an unfortunate way to end the Alastor series, whose first two books were so much fun. I wish Vance had continued the concept – especially the disguised Connatic who appeared in Trullion and Wyst. Warren Douglas picked up the idea in a surprisingly effective trilogy, but no one does Vance like Vance.

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