Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Review: THE DRAGON MASTERS by JACK VANCE

A story which has been released in several forms over the years, as part of anthologies or as a book in its own right, Jack Vance's novella was originally published in Galaxy magazine in 1962. I've just read it for the first time, in a copy of The Hugo Winners 1963-1967, and absolutely loved it.

The mixture of science fiction and fantasy tropes (an alien invasion, quarrelling natives, a group of new-age thinkers, dragons, massive battles and terrifying weapons alongside much more) was melded together into one of the most coherent novellas I've ever read.

Joaz Banbeck and Ervis Carcolo are two wonderfully formed characters, completely at loggerheads for the duration of the story, while the hippy-ish, naked Sacerdotes watch on as the world around them tears itself to pieces with internal conflict as well as external invasion from the chilling, strange race known as the Basics.

Social commentary seems to be a powerful motivation with the story, and the reader is invited to draw their own conclusions as to which party is in the right.

While the language and the format of the story has indeed dated a little, the power that it carries has not. The Dragon Masters is an extremely entertaining science fiction/fantasy novella, which I cannot recommend highly enough to lovers of genre fiction.

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