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Planet of Adventure: City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wankh, The Dirdir, and The Pnume Paperback – August 15, 1993
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From Kirkus Reviews
Four quintessential Vance adventures--(1968-75) City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wankh, The Dirdir, and The Pnume--now issued for the first time in a single volume and for the first time in hardcover. The splendid setting is Tschai, the single planet of a dim brown sun, where marooned Earthman Adam Reith encounters four brilliantly realized alien races (per the titles) and a teeming, often deadly flora and fauna in his efforts to survive and eventually return home. Exotic adventure, dastardly villains, beautiful women, baroque landscapes, all served up with the inimitable, incomparable Vance style and wit: dazzlingly inventive, utterly delightful, and absolutely, unequivocally essential to any collection or library (not to mention terrific value for the money). -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
“The Planet of Adventure tetralogy exemplifies Vance's mastery of the genre.” ―Fantasy Review
“Jack Vance is one of the finest writers that the science fiction field has ever known.” ―Poul Anderson, author of The Boat of a Million Years
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Top customer reviews
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Wow, 35 reviews for this collection of 4 novels and the absolute worst review is 4 stars! And I bet every single reviewer is a guy, too! Women do not seem to care for Vance.
Anyway, it's as other reviewers say--this is can't-put-it-down adventure with an occasional touch of humor. Adam Reith, a Star-Trek style human, crash-lands on the planet Tschai and overcomes a staggeringly stacked deck to free himself from the planet. There's that word, "free," and while Vance's works all grapple with it, I think he explores the meaning of freedom most fully in this series.
The four alien races that rule their portions of the E-type planet have human slaves. And the slave mentality, encouraged at times by various myths promulgated by the alien masters, is what Adam encounters. No human has any clue that he is a member of something called the human race, and that humans are a powerful force in the universe. Each group of humans adapts to slavery in a different way, most contemptibly by some humans' surgically modifying themselves to be more like their masters, the Dirdir.
All of the books are readable, but The Dirdir is my fave. The aliens, code-of-honor guys (think Samurai, Trojans, Marines) are believably and even sympathetically developed. As always, Adam is able to figure out a way to defeat them. The last time I read this one I was struck by a number of points of comparison between Adam and the 9/11 terrorists, if one were to look at it from the POV of the dominent Dirdir culture. Food for thought.
In each of the groups of humans, Adam encounters one person who is persuaded by Adam's example to join forces with him. The ways in which they work to cast off their conceptual chains give each one real dimension of character (the emblem-bearer is the first and best-developed of these freedom-seekers).
I didn't think about any of this stuff the first time I read these novels. I was just swept away by the compelling action. Warning: Do NOT start one of these novels after dinner or you are going to be one sorry, sleep-deprived individual by the next day.
And as for the reviewer who wrote that "women don't seem to care for Vance"... what a stupid thing to say, stop stereotyping.
The plot is as straightforward as anything you will ever read. Not that many plot twists or surprises that can't be seen chapters ahead, though there are enough to keep you guessing. So what makes it worth my while - and why is it one of the few books I recommend to everyone without hesitation?
It's all about the journey.
Imagine seeing a mile-long mural of the most fantastic alien scenery you can possibly imagine. But, instead of seeing it all from a distance and then getting close enough to pick out the gist of the story or recognize elements here and there [which is what happens when you read the synopsis on the back cover, or if you are familiar with Vance's work], you just start at the beginning... with an opaque curtain preceding you as you walk along it - taking in all the sights, sounds, textures and wonders revealed as you stride.
You only get to start for the first time once. After that, the wonder of everything you've experienced will make you come back for more. Upon re-readings you will see details and layers and lines and emotions you never noticed as you hurried to get to the end the first time. And subsequent readings will only enhance the pleasures of the first. This book has taught me why art exhibits exist, and why there are benches in front of some paintings that need to be revisited until [if, indeed, ever] they can be fully appreciated.
I had always wondered about that. Reading and rereading this book [the tetralogy, more precisely] has had a similar effect on me.
I have tons of other titles I have no hesitation in recommending as 'must reads' depending on whether you enjoy sci-fi or fantasy. But this is the ONLY book I recommend with an eye towards rereading.
I did not bother trying to get a refund from Amazon since it was over 30 days since I purchased the book.
Most recent customer reviews
I'd like to point out that this is not science fiction, it's fantasy.