Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Lyonesse (Suldrun's Garden) (Lyonesse Vol.…

Lyonesse (Suldrun's Garden) (Lyonesse Vol. 1) (original 1983; edition 1983)

by Jack Vance

Series: Lyonesse (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,123187,318 (3.91)40
Title:Lyonesse (Suldrun's Garden) (Lyonesse Vol. 1)
Authors:Jack Vance
Info:ElectricStory.com, Inc. (2011), Kindle Edition, 436 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Arthurian legend, fantasy, fantasy masterworks

Work details

Lyonesse by Jack Vance (1983)

Recently added bySFF1928-1973, LukeHerson, private library, dr.falko, Jon_Hansen, UBC_SFS, tokyoadam, keipfar, jomajime
  1. 10
    Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny (corporate_clone)
    corporate_clone: another modern telling of fairy tales, Amber and Lyonnesse have quite a bit in common and may appeal the same readers.
  2. 10
    The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 40 mentions

English (15)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All (18)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I think this fantasy trilogy may well be my favourite. It's one I still reread with pleasure, probably because it is so clearly written for adults, though when I first read it as a teenager the violent indignities inflicted on Christian missionaries and the fate of poor Suldrun scared me off after the cosy safety of Middle Earth and Narnia. Luckily I went back to it. The dangers and cruelties of the Elder Isles anticipate the modern hard-boiled fantasy epics of Martin, Abercombie et al, yet the language is that of high chivalry, arch wit and sharp irony. Even the most horrible monster is highly articulate and argues with logic and reason. For every danger and cruelty, however, there is wonder and kindness and joy. The books, also, are unashamedly drenched with magic and crowded with fey personages, possibly the best fictional representation of fairies I have ever read, wonderful creatures utterly without conscience.

The story is long and strange and always unexpected. Our protagonists suffer sudden changes or reversals of fortune at every turn, and it's only about halfway through before a narrative begins to take proper shape. Vance's evocation of a fantasy landscape is unparalleled. For the first time, I noticed that there was something missing from the detailed descriptions of meals and feasts and scavenged scraps and quick repasts: no potatoes. Because, of course, they haven't been brought back from the Americas yet. I don't know why, but that little detail made me unaccountably happy. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

As I'm writing this, Jack Vance's under-appreciated Lyonesse trilogy has been off the shelves for years. My library doesn't even have a copy — it had to be interlibrary loaned for me. Why is that? Publishers have been printing a seemingly endless stream of vampire and werewolf novels these days — same plot, same characters, blah blah blah. If not that, it's grit. We all want grit. Or maybe it's that more women are reading fantasy these days and publishers think we want to read about bad-ass heroines who kill vampires. But, the publishers and authors are just giving us what we demand, I suppose. We all got sick of the sweeping medieval-style multi-volume epics that take forever to write, publish, and read. So now we get vampires and sassy chicks with tattoos and bare midriffs. When we've become glutted with those (it can't be long now), what's next?

I've got a suggestion: Publishers, why don't you reprint some of the best classic fantasy? Let's start with Jack Vance's Lyonesse. Here we have a beautiful and complex story full of fascinating characters (even those we only see for a couple of pages are engaging), unpredictable and shocking plot twists, and rambling and entertainingly disjointed adventure. No clichés. No vampires.

As a psychologist, I especially appreciated the many insights into human cognition and perceptual processing that I found in Suldrun's Garden. But what's best is Jack Vance's unique style. He's quirky, funny, and droll. He uses language not just to tell us an interesting story, but he actually entertains us with the way he uses language to tell the story. Similar to Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, or Catherynne Valente, but in a different, completely unique style. I love authors who respect the English language and compose their prose with care and precision. Many of Jack Vance's sentences are purposely funny in their construction and I find myself laughing and delighted not at what was said, but at how it was said. Here's his description of Shimrod's excursion to another world:

He apprehended a landscape of vast extent dotted with isolated mountains of gray-yellow custard, each terminating in a ludicrous semi-human face. All faces turned toward himself, displaying outrage and censure. Some showed cataclysmic scowls and grimaces, others produced thunderous belches of disdain. The most intemperate extruded a pair of liver-colored tongues, dripping magma which tinkled in falling, like small bells; one or two spat jets of hissing green sound, which Shimrod avoided, so that they struck other mountains, to cause new disturbance.

And here is part of King Casmir's lecture to his daughter Suldrun when she announced that she's not ready to get married:

That is sentiment properly to be expected in a maiden chaste and innocent. I am not displeased. Still, such qualms must bend before affairs of state ... Your conduct toward Duke Carfilhiot must be amiable and gracious, yet neither fulsome not exaggerated. Do not press your company upon him; a man like Carfilhiot is stimulated by reserve and reluctance. Still, be neither coy not cold ... Modesty is all very well in moderation, even appealing. Still, when exercised to excess it becomes tiresome.

If you can find a used copy of Suldrun's Garden, the first of the Lyonesse trilogy, snatch it up. There are some available on Amazon and there's a kindle version, too. (Beware the Fantasy Masterworks version, which is known to have printing errors). Jack Vance is original; You won't get his books confused with anyone else's. This is beautiful work for those who love excellent fantasy literature!

Read this review in context at Fantasy Literature. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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. ( )
  salimbol | Dec 31, 2013 |
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. ( )
  stuart10er | Sep 27, 2013 |
das good
  miketopper | Jul 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Canty, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, James C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toulouse, SophieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Houten, MickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Norma: wife and colleague
First words
On a dreary winter's day, with rain sweeping across Lyonesse Town, Queen Sollace went into labor.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575073748, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The Elder Isles, located 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 in this tale is Casmir, the ruthless and ambitious King of Lyonnesse.

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
41 wanted3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.91)
0.5 1
1 5
2 13
2.5 3
3 34
3.5 10
4 59
4.5 11
5 65

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,399,346 books! | Top bar: Always visible