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The Book of Dreams, by Jack Vance Book Review | SFReader.com
The Book of Dreams, by Jack Vance Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Penguin Published: 1983 Review Posted: 10/31/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10
The Book of Dreams, by Jack Vance
Book Review by Dave Hardy
Have you read this book?
The Book of Dreams is the fifth and final book in the Demon Princes series. Kirth Gersen has slain four of the inter-stellar gangsters that slaughtered his family years ago. Only one remains--Howard Alan Treesong. A chance encounter with some crucial evidence gives Gersen a lead on the elusive master criminal.
In an irony that should be familiar to readers who have been paying attention, The Book of Dreams is not very much about crime. Though some of Treesong's ambitious schemes for criminal domination are explored, these are mere byways to the heart of the matter. Gersen must unravel the psyche of Treesong in order to lure his prey into the open.
Vance's Demon Princes are not gangsters in the sense that modern people understand the word. Vance's villains don't rise from sordid slums or serve apprenticeships whacking guys who have fallen afoul of the Spaceship Mafia. There aren't any guys talking out of the side of their mouths or eating Vegan canolli. Rather Vance portrays the youth and upbringing of a criminal who is chillingly familiar, a sociopathic youth obsessed by frustrated dreams who acts them out with brutal precision. Al Capone is distinguished by his absence from The Book of Dreams, Dylan Klebold is frighteningly present.
Vance's off-kilter humor is quite in evidence, from ruminations on the dark side of vegetarianism to the general delight that the ordinary run of people take in severe misfortune to others. The perils of being an interstellar tourist (even when not pursuing a guy who's the galaxy's most wanted outlaw) form a counterpoint to Gersen's grim obsession.
The Book of Dreams is a fitting climax to the saga. It is not a grand bang, but that doesn't seem to have been Vance's aim. Rather it is Gersen's last, lonely excursion into the mind of his beloved enemy.
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