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The Faceless Man by Jack Vance

The Faceless Man (1971)

by Jack Vance

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Durdane Trilogy (1)

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358347,376 (3.6)9
The minstrel Gastel Etzwane lives in Shant -- a country of cantons, each independently dictating its own law and customs. The enforcement of law is simple, quick, and inevitable: death by decapitation, from an explosive torc clamped around each citizen's neck by authority of a single man -- the Anome. For millennia Anomes have ruled Shant, dealing death as they see fit -- and none dares defy them, until Gastel Etzwane risks his head to expose the Anome's identity -- and end the tyranny of these faceless men forever. - Jack KingOn the fringes of the Gaean Reach, the cantons of Shant on the planet Durdane are ruled by the reclusive Anome -- who coerces the population using explosive rings around the neck of every adult citizen. The Durdane trilogy (The Anome, The Brave Free Men, and The Asutra) follows the life of Gastel Etzwane, who grows from childhood in the dust of Rhododendron Way to become a musician of renown, and almost against his will, a man of action. When remote cantons are brutalized by the depredations of inhuman Roguskhoi, Etzwane goes before the Anome with a case for response. The Anome proves oddly reluctant to act, and Etzwane must stage a coup to turn Shant against the hordes. Eventually he discovers the sinister fact that the Roguskhoi tribes are pawns of the Asutra, alien elements who seek to bend all of humanity to a disturbing end. The Durdane trilogy traces the rise, struggles and ultimate triumph of Gastel Etzwane-and through him, of humanity itself-over alien subjugation. - Joel HedlundThe Anome, originally published as The Faceless Man, is Book I of the Durdane trilogy, and Volume 43 of the Spatterlight Press Signature Series.Released in the centenary of the author's birth, this handsome new collectionis based upon the prestigious Vance Integral Edition. Select volumes enjoyup-to-date maps, and many are graced with freshly-written forewords contributedby a distinguished group of authors. Each book bears a facsimile of theauthor's signature and a previously-unpublished photograph, chosen from family archives for the period the book was written. These uniquefeatures will be appreciated by all, from seasoned Vance collector to new reader sampling the spectrum of this author's influential work forthe first time. - John Vance II… (more)



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» See also 9 mentions

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Mur (later renamed Etzwane) is from a female-phobic religious community from which he escapes. He then becomes a musician and later learns of a threat to his country in the form of ravaging mutant creatures. For some reason, the Faceless Man, the mysterious supreme authority that rules here, refuses to act against them and minimizes the threat they pose. Etzwane seeks out the Faceless man to discover why and to try to get him to take action.
This first book of the Durdane trilogy was originally published in paperback in 1971 as The Anome. It is currently available for Kindle under the original title. It is a short book by modern standards, with 224 pages and very wide margins. I found the limited 1983 hardcover editions of this trilogy at my local library and later learned that any print versions are now difficult to come by. I don’t know why. This first installment is quite interesting. The world-building is top notch, with enough detail to bring it to life. The imaginative setting has the feel of fantasy/steampunk, but in my estimation, the book qualifies as science fiction. The details of the story tie back to known science without resort to supernatural or mystical contrivances. It is set in the distant future, on a planet with multiple suns, colonized by humans many generations before and largely forgotten by those on Earth.
The protagonist is likeable, and he is smart and brave enough to pull up stakes and move on when he finds himself in a bad situation. I followed his exploits with interest.
As the first book of a series, many questions remain at the end. I hope they will be resolved. I’ll be reading the rest of the series, so I’ll let you know if they are.
( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
The following is a review of the Durdane Chronicles as a whole (without spoilers):

http://speculiction.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/review-of-durdane-chronicles-by-jack.... ( )
  HanJie | May 9, 2014 |
I haven't read a Jack Vance story for quite a few years. Since he just passed away near the end of May I felt I owed myself a look at some of what I have missed over the years. "The Faceless Man", first published in 1971 and the first book in a trilogy was handy and looked interesting. Reading it reminded me of why I once liked Vance so much. The writing is smart, the world building is quick and good and we have little difficulty immersing ourselves in it and identifying with our young protaganist, Mur, who is about to rebel against a very harsh and unfair totalitarian community. The world of the story is a distinctly devolved group of xenophobic societies in the far future on another planet. Women in particular are not in a happy place. This is also partly a coming of age tale. When boys reach the age of 12 they go through a purification ceremony to become "Pure boys" and take on a new name. They must thereafter avoid the taint of women which they have just been cleansed of. Mur follows the letter of the law, but apparently not the spirit according to the religious leaders by being too close to his mother. This becomes the catalyst for Mur to break away from his birthplace.

This is as much a generic fantasy as science fiction. I liked it "OK", but my liking distinctly lessened for a time once the boy escaped and was out in the world. In fact I set is aside to read something else, but I came back to it since it kept hanging there in the back of my mind. It has some exciting moments, but it is also quite bland at times and, being part of a trilogy, a little unfinished. I enjoyed it, but it is fair to say I appreciated the story more in hindsight when I had a bigger picture of things and thought back on it. I will probably read the followup novels "The Brave Free Men" and "The Asutra" before too long.

This is by no means a great work, and since it is over 40 years old it can't help but seem a little dated. I thought it was a lot more readable than some of the experimental stuff from that era, however. ( )
  RBeffa | Aug 20, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dana, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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At the age of nine Mur heard a man in his mother's rest cottage call out a jocular curse in the name of the Faceless Man.
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Originally serialized in: The magazine of fantasy and science fiction (Feb.-March 1971) under title: The Faceless Man
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