Book Review – The Faceless Man by Jack Vance
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.