The Lyonesse Trilogy Critical Essays

Jack Vance


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jack Vance is a well-known and highly published figure in the science-fiction community. A Hugo and Nebula award winner known for writing science-fiction series and trilogies, he explores the high fantasy genre in his Lyonesse trilogy.

The Lyonesse trilogy contains fairly standard high fantasy, focusing on the adventures and plans of kings and wizards. King Casmir is represented as the evil, despotic king, whereas Aillas is characterized as the noble prince turned benevolent monarch. Shimrod and Murgen are magicians for the forces of good, whereas Tamurello is the evil wizard. The forces of good naturally triumph.

Like most high fantasy series, the Lyonesse trilogy employs intriguing and multiple subplots along with the main plot in each novel. Minor characters, such as Melancthe the witch and Torqual the rebel Ska, play small but important parts. The subplots are resolved by the end of the trilogy.

In this trilogy, Vance uses folklore and mythology to enhance his tales. Each novel involves some sort of quest or journey, and these quests work along standard folklore formula. For example, when Dhrun goes in search of his father, he takes with him gifts from the fairy. He uses these magical items, along with his own wits, to overcome his obstacles. The other quests follow the same pattern. Each hero of a quest receives magical help or advice that enables him to accomplish his goal.

Vance also uses specific references to...

(The entire section is 441 words.)