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The Dragon Masters: The Definitive Edition Of The Hugo - Award Winning Novel Hardcover – August 19, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: I Books (August 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743474678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743474672
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Dragon Masters is great reading. you never know how is going to end. The battle sequences are presented with ability and you feel like you are in the middle of the action. Like always with Vance, he manages to create human and alien cultures wich are believable and at the same do not resemble or copy any culture we know. The thing about this story is the sense of decadence and fatality of humanity. It is suppose to be in the far away future after a great and destructive war, and it appears like the once powerful humans wich controlled a lot of planets under their rule are now just a group of a few tribes living in the small valleys of a harsh planet. An alien race comes to this planet every time its home planet orbits near, and they use its technical superiority to enslave humans. What to do? How do we face such an enemy? Is it true there are no humans elsewhere? But besides the alien menace, the tribes engage in war between them. Are doomed the humans because they can not stop fighting each other? This is a story about hope, about defeat and about the uncertainty of the future.

Finally I want to make a WARNING: if you have not read this book and you do not know any specific details about the story, avoid reading the backcover. I can't understand why, but the publisher reveals the greatest plot twist in the story. I never read this kind of information because I want to be surprised in my reading. After I finished reading this book I read the backcover and I couldn't believe what they said.

Also in this book is another story: The Last Castle. I'm only going to mention one thing. You've got to read this because of the human culture depicted here. To see those men handle the extreme situation in which they are is at the same time hilarious and stressful.
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Format: Paperback
Jack Vance is one of the greatest SF writers of all time, an SFWA Grand Master, an inimitable prose stylist, as individual a writer as anyone. He has won two Hugo awards and one Nebula, for two long novellas from the 60s. These are "The Dragon Masters" (1962) and "The Last Castle" (1966). (The latter won both awards -- the former having been published prior to the establishment of the Nebulas.) These stories have long been associated with each other, not just because they both won Hugos, but because they share certain themes, and because they have been published together as an Ace Double. This new book, called simply The Dragon Masters, brings these two stories together again.

Both stories are set in the far future, and they feature humans enslaving genetically modified aliens. In each, the plot turns on a war between the humans and the aliens. The two stories are quite cynical, and our admiration for the heroes is tempered by our natural antipathy for some of their attitudes and actions.

In "The Dragon Masters", humans have almost been eradicated. Those that remain are mostly slaves of aliens, modified for special uses; except on one planet, where a few remain free. Indeed, these free humans have captured some aliens and radically modified them for their own uses. The hero, Joaz Banbeck, is a very Vancean hero, dour, misogynistic, intelligent but resigned. He has determined that the aliens are due to return, and he tries to organize a defence while dealing with a foolish enemy in the next valley, and also with the reclusive humans who live underneath the ground. The story works its way to a logical and rather bitter and uncompromising conclusion.
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Format: Hardcover
Why the publisher, and Amazon, omit this fact I don't know, but this book includes TWO classic Vance tales. "The Last Castle" is archetypal Vance: the refined, even effete, society forced to choose between its ideals and the harsh danger of reality. The tension between Vance's aesthetes and his action heroes is a constant in his books.
This text is, if I recall aright, published with the aid of the Vance Integrated Edition project; in other words, the text is cleansed of the annoying typos that too often mar Vance's work. (Exhibit A, "Tales of the Dying Earth," which no one appears to have edited before publication. Or if they did, they need to stay anonymous.)
I prefer Vance's fantasy myself, but this book is a must-have if you appreciate Vance.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For so short a tale, the enjoyment it offered was disproportionate to its length. While "The Dragon Masters" contained rather less Vance-esque prose than I had hoped, it did not disappoint. The story was concise, the characters were singularly identifiable and subject matter was both interesting and intelligible. The story makes a great allegory of slavery (of self to ones nature as well as one being to another), the clash of different cultures, and the ever present concern of war. I was not surprised to learn this story was written in the early 1960s. ;-)

Some quotes, for good measure:

"Carcolo was a distraction most unwelcome at the present time. There would be no tolerance when Carcolo was finally brought to account. A light step behind him, the pressure of fur, the touch of gay hands, the scent of incense. Joaz’s tensions melted. If there were no such creatures as minstrel-maidens, it would be necessary to invent them."

And one more:

“The Basics were here already,” said Givven with unwelcome rationality. “We could have done nothing since we had nothing to do with.”

TL,DR: Fan of Vance? Check it out. Fan of sci-fi? Check it out. Even though this edition does not include "The Last Castle", the story is still worth picking up.
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