Themes

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 167

A major theme is the importance of political pragmatism, as demonstrated not only by Yakoub's conflict with Shandor but by his skillful manipulation of relations with the empire. This theme is developed also in Yakoub's memories of his earlier life as a gypsy trickster. Yakoub's life has been a testimony...

(The entire section contains 167 words.)

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A major theme is the importance of political pragmatism, as demonstrated not only by Yakoub's conflict with Shandor but by his skillful manipulation of relations with the empire. This theme is developed also in Yakoub's memories of his earlier life as a gypsy trickster. Yakoub's life has been a testimony to his survivor abilities and to his lusty enjoyment of the sensual pleasures of food and sexual gratification, as well as his delight in the trickery employed in his exercise of power.

As the dominating character of the novel and one of the supreme tricksters of science fiction and fantasy, Yakoub is cast in the tradition of the guileful heroes of Edgar Rice Burroughs and their descendants, as created by such masters of adventure science fiction as Philip Jose Farmer (Kickaha in the World of Tiers Series) and Poul Anderson (Nicolas van Rijn in various novels). Although credible as a gypsy monarch, Yakoub is a larger-than-life Falstaff, whose craftiness and humor provide much of the novel's drama.

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