Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden Bk.1 (Fantasy Masterworks S.)

by Jack Vance

Paperback, 2002



Call number




Gollancz (2002), Paperback


Fantasy. Fiction. HTML: A monument of fantastic literature to stand beside such classics as Dune and The Lord of the Rings, Lyonesse evokes the Elder Isles, a land of pre-Arthurian myth now lost beneath the Atlantic, where powerful sorcerers, aloof faeries, stalwart champions, and nobles eccentric, magnanimous, and cruel pursue intrigue among their separate worlds. In this first book of the trilogy, Suldrun's Garden, Prince Aillas of Troicinet is betrayed on his first diplomatic voyage and cast into the sea. Before he redeems his birthright, he must pass the breadth of Hybras Isle as prisoner, vagabond, and slave, an acquaintance of faeries, wizards, and errant knights, and lover to a sad and beautiful girl whose fate sets his bitter rivalry with the tyrant Casmir, King of Lyonesse..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member KAzevedo
Magical and enchanting. I loved the language, and the story is complex and intelligent. The characters are not deeply drawn, but compelling nevertheless. I read this first one of the series in less than a day, and can imagine rereading it many times. There is much humor, both subtle and explicit,
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as well as some rather dispassionate horror, and for me, the story never lagged. I am both eager to read the next book, and wary of finishing the series too soon. I found this fantasy to be unique and am amazed that it has not been more widely recommended by LTers.
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LibraryThing member selfnoise
I should probably disclose that I am a Vance collector and die-hard. While most of his work is science-fantasy, the Lyonesse series is a historical fantasy, and a very good one. Vance's prose style is unusual and can be a hard sell; think P.G. Wodehouse with laser guns and ogres. I recommend giving
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it a try, though; you might very well find yourself as miserably addicted as I am.
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LibraryThing member ashleytylerjohn
Let's be clear: it's not perfect, and it's not for everybody. But (for me) it's imperfections seem deliberate and charming. It was apparently written in the 1980s, but has the air of something written in the 1940s crossed with something written in the 1600s.

If you're familiar with the "romance"
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genre--not the Harlequin or Mills & Boone kind of romance, but the antecedent of the novel, exemplified in Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, you will have a sense of what to expect: a dazzling array of characters, whose character is little delved into, points-of-view that skip all over the place, an uneven sense of scale and description (there is no guarantee that the more that is written, the more important it is. At one point he lists, in list form, the characteristics of a dozen or-so individual fairies, none of whom enter into the story), and other such flaws.

And yet, it felt like a masterwork to me, and criticizing it would be like criticizing The Odyssey or Grimms' Fairy Tales. I loved it. It was odd, but lovely, and very much itself throughout.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, but I grade on a curve!
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LibraryThing member suzemo
Classic high fantasy.

After all of the werewolves, vampires, angels, and urban-fantasy, it's nice to settle down with a classic high fantasy novel.

Set in the mythical land of the Elder Isles, before the time of King Arthur, this novel has everything I needed to cleanse my fantasy palate. Good and
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evil knights, good and evil wizards, evil kings, tortured princesses, good heroes. Lots of magic and magical creatures and a hearty adventure weaving multiple lives together.

It is the first in the trilogy, but it wraps up the story lines it focuses on well enough.

My only caveat is this: It's an older book, and it *feels* and reads like a high fantasy some old white dude wrote. It does take place in a classic European setting with more than its fair share of raping and "erotic" activities, but nothing terribly graphic. Don't expect any progressive ideals or adventures, but sit back and enjoy the classic fun if you'd like.
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LibraryThing member Karlstar
Suldrun's Garden was my 2nd introduction to fantasy novels by Jack Vance. My first was Cugel's Saga, which I disliked intensely. Suldrun's Garden was a revelation. A well written, creative, different fantasy! Not the usual sword and sworcery, heroic good vs evil book, but a thoughtful, complicated
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novel. I enjoyed this book quite a bit and looked for the 2nd book eagerly.
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LibraryThing member dazzyj
Highly inventive but marred, in my view, by a strange discontinuity of tone. The passages of high adventure and political intrigue were much more engaging than the dreamlike sequence of faerie-like mythology.
LibraryThing member stuart10er
A princess of one kingdom rescues a prince of the enemy kingdrom. They marry in secret and have a baby. This was the 2nd time I read it and I enjoyed it more the 2nd time.
LibraryThing member salimbol
Props for its elegant prose, a certain wryness of expression, intelligent deployment of all the standard tropes of high fantasy, and many story threads cleverly tied together. However, I have to take points off for thin characterisation and excessive (if non-graphic) sexual violence.
LibraryThing member yvonnekins
I decided to borrow this, as it was available on Libby, and I had nothing to read with me. I recognized the title as it was on my Goodreads "to-read" shelf (I added it after finding it on a list of best fantasy books or best fantasy series somewhere a while back.)

This has only served to exacerbate
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my boredom; even if it does get better I doubt it's worth the slog.
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Nebula Award (Nominee — Novel — 1983)
World Fantasy Award (Nominee — Novel — 1984)
British Fantasy Award (Nominee — August Derleth Fantasy Award — 1985)


Original publication date


Physical description

448 p.; 7.4 inches


0575073748 / 9780575073746
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