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Lyonesse: Book 1 - Suldrun's Garden Paperback – April 1, 1983

4.2 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Lyonesse Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; First Edition edition (April 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425058735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425058732
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Is this really out of print? In that case I will purchase "Suldrun's Garden" second hand, and the publishers shall get not a groat.
This is the first of a fantasy series from the 1980s, by an author whose first work in the genre ("The Dying Earth", 1950) predates publication of "The Lord of the Rings" ... consequently one does NOT get the immitable bits of Tolkein filtered through the D&D Dungeon-Master's Guide, but a book that re-creates mythology in its own right. Well, it sort of re-creates fairytale as well. "Suldrun's Garden" especially.
This was (and will be) many people's first Vance book; and so I should mention the most salient point: the style. Unlike most of his competitors Vance can put a sentence together - nay, even a paragraph: imagine that! - and his dialogue is always crisp and delicious. (Supposedly wise wizards mouthing empty inanities are nowhere to be found in Vance.) Inventive, unpredicatble, beautiful ... the publishers can stick that on the back cover of the next edition, if they want. Just so long as they print one.
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Format: Paperback
The Lyonesse Trilogy may be Jack Vance's best work. The richly imagined land of Lyonesse and the Elder Isles, the lost islands of fantasy between France and Britain, is alive with magic, vivid characters, devious schemes and Old Folk. In a wonderful synthesis of Tolkein and Old English myth, kings and children, magicians and knights, faeries and ogres wander in and out of each other stories.
Suldrun's Garden opens the trilogy. The other volumes are The Green Pearl and Maduoc. Suldrun, the daughter of the relentlessly scheming King Casimir of Lyonesse, wants nothing to do with the future her father has planned for her. For her stubbornness, she is exiled to a garden at the edge of Casimir's castle. One day, a shipwrecked sailor washes up on shore. He is Ailias, prince of the kingdom of Troicent, pushed overboard by his cousin. Lyonesse is at war with Troicenet, and the doomed relationship is one of the threads that make up this wonderful tale.
From changelings to evil tyrants, from hedge witches to Mulgren, who has dedicated his life to keeping the Elder Isles above the waves, Vance does a fine job of interweaving new stories and old. There are children's adventures that trace to the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson; there are sly references to the King Arthur (his grandfather appears briefly); and there is much that is the marvelous creation of Vance himself.
This is my test for excellent fantasy: when you read it, the world created is brighter and more vivid than the world you return to at the end of the book. This book passes that test. I'd love to wander the forest of Tantrelles, or talk with Shimrod, or wander the Teac a Teac.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
A friend gave me this book 20 years ago, in 1984. And I never read it. It moved with me from house to house along with a big pile of other unread books. Every once in a while I would give it a glance; but the back-cover copy was not all that interesting, and the map in the front looks crudely hand-drawn, and the first couple paragraphs seeed kind of dry -- whatever, I made no progress, tossed it back on a shelf. I had other stuff to read.

This year I started to play attention to fantasy again, what with the release of Donaldson's new Covenant series and my cousin recommending the Phillip Pulman trilogy to me. Over the Summer I pulled this book from the basement and added it to the to-read stack. Last week I read an old essay from Samuel R Delany saying how wonderful Vance is: ok, I'll give this book another try.

After a couple days to get into it, the book just consumed me, and I burned thru the last 375+ pages in one sitting, staying up all night (til 7am! and I work in the mornings!) to finish it.

Wow. What a book!

Vance takes his time setting everything up just so; but when the match touches the the tinder this book just starts roaring. An amazingly detailed and dramatic plot with dizzying twists and turns. Some of the most richly detailed characters I've ever encountered; believeable yet surprising. Written with a very sure, controlled (even dry) prose. This is definitely a work for grown-ups: very mature, hard-edged at times. Yet light and funny at other times; and warm. This author really knows what he's doing. Rewarding.

Why wouldn't I even give this book a decent chance before? Well -- maybe I was too young before.
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Format: Hardcover
This book leaves me with amazement at Jack Vance's range of imagination and precision. I am familiar with Vance's early science fiction novels that employ a pleasantly deliberate execution. This work retains that style and yet endeavors and succeeds in contriving an elaborate, far-stretching story of an epic level. His characters are entirely believable and emotionally charged. He draws the plot together in a natural and yet surprising manner, and his depiction of the magical arts and creatures is like a fairy tale of adult proportions. I have read a lot of fantasy novels and this one I have found incredibly refreshing in its originality and delivery. Enjoy! I look forward to reading the remainder of this trilogy.
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