I like this series, but a lot of the questions are either very similar to things I have already done before, or to another question in the Authors Answer line-up. This week’s question is What authors, styles or intellectual movements have most influenced your writing?
I made it! This is the very last entry in my 26-Week Book Challenge, even if this is an afterlude. Don’t tell me that’s not a word; it is now. Anyway, I posted 37 entries in total: 26 actual entries and 11 interludes on questions I could not (or would not) answer. Today’s is the last of those, and it’s the question which, to me, is the silliest of them all: your favourite book of all time.
- Title: Suldrun’s Garden
- Author: Jack Vance
- Genre: Fantasy
- Why: Because I adore Jack Vance and I’d never yet got round to reading his Lyonesse series.
- Rating: 5 Stars
Description: The Elder Isles, located in what is now the Bay of Biscay off the the coast of Old Gaul, are made up of ten contending kingdoms, all vying with each other for control. At the centre of much of the intrigue is Casmir, the ruthless and ambitious king of Lyonnesse. His beautiful but otherworldly daughter, Suldrun, is part of his plans. He intends to cement an alliance or two by marrying her well. But Suldrun is as determined as he and defies him. Casmir coldly confines her to the overgrown garden that she loves to frequent, and it is here that meets her love and her tragedy unfolds. Political intrigue, magic, war, adventure and romance are interwoven in a rich and sweeping tale set in a brilliantly realized fabled land.
Well, regular readers of this blog will know that Jack Vance is one of my all time favourite authors. I just found out that he passed away three days ago, at age 96.
I cannot possibly claim that he went too early, but I know that I will miss him like I would miss few other authors.
It hit me late last night – I’d posted up a love letter to Jack Vance and not once did I mention my absolute favourite short story of his! So here is a separate post to remedy that.
As the title suggests, the story is Chateau d’If. It starts with five friends who are having a drink at a terrace, as they often do, and get talking about a mysterious new advert that has started to appear around town. It advertises the Chateau d’If, and promises adventure beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. The Chateau has them intrigued, and after some enquiries they discover that there are two programs it offers up for purchase: one costing ten thousand and one costing ten million (the currency is never mentioned). The friends agree that one of them will try it, funded by the other four, and roll dice for who gets to go.
The chosen person goes for his appointment, then fails to show up for the agreed rendez-vous to report on what it was like.
I’ll refrain from saying anything else and giving away spoilers, but I adored this story when I first read it as a teenager, and still do whenever I read it. It originally attracted my attention by its title, because anyone who has ever read The Count of Monte Cristo will recognise the Chateau d’If as the rocky island prison where Edmond Dantes spends nearly twenty years of his life. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of that, but that simple coincidence led me to one of my all-time favourite stories.
The sad thing is that it is fiendishly difficult to get hold of, like most of Vance’s more obscure work, and I had to pay about £40 a few years back to buy a second-hand copy of a book with Chateau d’If in it, which was comparatively cheap. If you see this story for sale somewhere and it is a bargain, grab it. It’s awesome.
Today’s post will be the first one in a series I plan to devote to the authors who have inspired and influenced me the most throughout my life so far. It’s been a bit hard to decide who to start with, but in the end it had to be Jack Vance.
I’ll say this right off the bat: it may not be my smartest choice to start with him. I’m sure lots of people reading this will never even have heard of him, but he has been one of my favourites since I was a teenager. I’m sure he was pretty popular in the Netherlands at that time, and I was quite surprised to find that most of my English fantasy-loving friends had no clue who he was.