My Foray into High Fantasy with LYONESSE: SULDRUN'S GARDEN by Jack Vance

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I dove into this 1983 literary fantasy due purely to the setting—the sunken lands of lost Lyonesse, west of Cornwall, for which I’ve developed a deep fascination.  Many of you know I’m in the middle of writing my own first historical paranormal romance trilogy, so I need to know more about this world!


                The Amazon reviews of Vance’s Lyonesse were mixed and I waded in cautiously, forewarned to expect a slow pace and a challenging start.  This is undoubtedly a book one must commit to, so set your mind to that before you start.  I absorbed the languid opening chapters, lured by the richly textured, delicately enchanting world of Lyonesse and the winsome, lonely princess Suldrun, imprisoned in a charmed garden overlooking the sea by her domineering father King Casmir—one of the villains of this piece.


                (WARNING:  plot spoiler ahead!)  When a wretched Suldrun unexpectedly hangs herself a third of the way along, we’re stranded without a heroine, and I nearly flung the book down in dismay.  What I didn’t realize then was that Suldrun’s suicide, and the events surrounding it, were the real inciting incidents for this high fantasy epic. 


                Thus commenced the imaginative and riveting adventures of Suldrun’s illicit lover (the imprisoned Prince Aillas from warring neighbor Troicenet) and the doomed pair’s son Dhrun—who was secretly switched by fairies for a changeling.  Despite the author’s deliberate choice of an ironic, somewhat remote voice and his decision to perch us ever so lightly in the viewpoints of Aillas, Dhrun and a colorful array of secondary characters (mostly villainous), the story’s gossamer spell held me trapped and I had to finish this book!


                It’s only now, as I’m writing this review, that I’ve realized I want to read more of Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy, whose third book Madouc won a World Fantasy Award.


                Now I’m looking for more Lyonesse stories in any genre!  If you know any, please visit me on Facebook or Twitter and drop me a line.    

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