WIR #26: City of the Chasch

City of the ChaschVance, Jack. City of the Chasch. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1968 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:
I am now finished with City of the Chasch. Each of the four books in this series is named after one of four different alien races (not counting men) who inhabit the planet Tschai. Thus, City of the Chasch is named for the Chasch.

The article on Jack Vance at Wikipedia is, I think, worth reading. Born in 1916 in San Francisco, California, Vance, who is now 93, is still with us. This snippet from the Wikipedia article is telling:

When asked about literary influences, Vance often cites Jeffery Farnol, a writer of adventure books, whose style of 'high' language he mentions (the Farnol title Guyfford of Weare being a typical instance); P. G. Wodehouse, an influence in Vance's taste for overbearing aunts; and L. Frank Baum, fantasy elements in whose work have been directly borrowed by Vance (see 'The Emerald City of Oz').

For a period, while reading City of the Chasch, I wrote down unusual words that either are seen infrequently in modern fiction (in my experience) or words with which I am unfamiliar or which I'd not seen in fiction in many a year. Below is a sample (which I think is an example of the 'high' language referred to above):

  • lambent
  • diffident
  • truculent
  • stalwart
  • slatternly
  • surreptitious
  • obsequious
  • insensate
  • comestible
  • torpid
  • poltroon
  • recalcitrance
  • trice
  • adduce
  • bellicosity

As to the story itself, I quite enjoyed it, although the hero, Adam Reith, sometimes seemed a might too inconstant in his zeal towards his ultimate goal.

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