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The Dragon Masters

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  727 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Man has warred for centuries with the reptilian race called "Basics". The winner of each bloody encounter has made slaves of the loser—but in this far-future conflict each side improves its slaves with genetic engineering. On Aerlith, men have bred Basics into fearsome troops; on Coralyne, Basics have developed grotesque mutant human warriors. The mysterious Sacerdotes wat ...more
ebook, 93 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Spatterlight Press, LLC (first published 1962)
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I am slowly making my way through McGee's encyclopedic On Food and Cooking, which is teaching me all sorts of fascinating and surprising things. One theme that stands out is how recent many fruits and vegetables are: for example, rutabagas (swedes), broccoli, cauliflower and strawberries were all created during the last few hundred years. Similarly, all our domestic animals have been bred for properties that make them very different from their wild ancestors.

After a while, I started wondering wh
Dirk Grobbelaar
Wow, don't quite know what to make of this one. It was enjoyable enough and certainly aspires to a level of profoundness, although I'm not so sure I get it. Aliens enslave humans, genetically altering and breeding them into steeds and super-soldiers. Humans do same to said aliens, creating the "dragons" of the title. The question, I suppose, is whether this is any more ethical than what the aliens are doing. Riding around on dragons certainly seems less grotesque than lizard-like grephs gallopin ...more
4.5 to 5.0 stars. Jack Vance is THE Master. I just re-read this after having read it first years ago and I think I liked it even more the second time around. Jack Vance creates a great scenario in which on one side you have the "men" who breed dragons as soldiers and on the other the "dragons" who breed "Men" as soldiers. Classic science ficiton as only Jack Vance can do it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Winner: Hugo Award best Novella

Most recently read on Jaunary 24, 2010.
Two of Jack Vance's most well-regarded novelas from the 1960s are here, in this slim little volume, and they're both treasures of mystery, imagination and highly evocative prose. There is a theme running throughout of genetic augmentation, though handled in a rather unique way, as well as communication, or perhaps the failure of beings to communicate, be they humans theoretically on the same wavelength or else beings with such a gulf of difference between them that understanding simply cannot be ...more
There are two novellas in this volume: 'The Dragon Masters' and 'The Last Kingdom'. The latter I didn't like all that much, but you've got to admire the prose style and the narrative voice. The former I loved: it made me want to reread the Pern books (though I'm sure they'll seem rubbish a) in comparison and b) after loving them as a kid) for more engineered-dragon goodness.

I like that in such short stories Vance can evoke a whole world and make you care about the outcome -- not so much about th
What is particularly astounding about this short novel is how much Vance manages to pack into a small number of pages; and he does so without the result seeming cluttered or contrived.

So we are given a galaxy where men once had an empire but no longer do; a few scattered worlds where humans cling to life in unusual societies (something Vance is very good at creating); the power politics of those societies; a religious cult unfathomable to ordinary men; the conflict between these passive mystics
What's amazing to me about this book is how much Vance accomplishes in so little space. In a mere 133 pages he establishes setting, character, multiple levels of conflict, and theme. None of these are explored in quite the depth that they deserve, but frankly I did not miss them as the story went rocketing by.

Vance explores the conflict between several mutually-incompatable viewpoints, each convinced that it is completely correct and completely unable to negotiate. The Basics/grephs act to bring
Yes. I am that kind of person who never gives an artist/musician/author the time of day...until he I picked up The Dragon Masters. Apparently Michael Chabon (or possibly Neil Gaiman) said something really good and cool about Dragon Masters, and honestly it is (sadly) the only book we have in the library system here. I was really impressed.

The Dragon Masters (this edition) consists of two novellas: The Dragon Masters and The Last Castle both of which deal with humans many thousands of y
-Un Vance a medio camino entre su producción más “seria” y la más “sarcástica”.-

Género. Novela corta.

Lo que nos cuenta. Los rumores de que un sacerdote ha sido visto en los aposentos privados de Joaz Banbeck se extienden. Joaz, el líder de la comunidad de Valle Banbeck, es convocado por Ervis Carcolo, el canciller de Valle Feliz, para conferenciar. Y es que ambas comunidades han tenido muchos enfrentamientos, a lomos de sus monstruos o “dragones”, a lo largo de los años, interrumpidos en ocasio
I was a bit unsure going into this one, since my first brush with Jack Vance didn’t exactly win me over. But a friend was kind enough to send me this one, and since it’s so tiny, I thought I’d give it a go.

It turned out to be just what I needed. I’ve been struggling a little bit with my reading mojo at the moment, and I think being able to read something so quick and easy has helped somewhat, as I’m now eager to read more of the same – that is, fantasy with a hint of SF. I’ve been wanting to try
Mark Wright
May 04, 2010 Mark Wright is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
It's got it all - a cheesy cover, an embarrassing title and a ridiculous synopsis on the back cover. But as Michael Chabon said, “Jack Vance is the most painful case of all the writers I love who I feel don’t get the credit they deserve. If ‘The Last Castle’ or ‘The Dragon Masters’ had the name Italo Calvino on it, or just a foreign name, it would be received as a profound meditation, but because he’s Jack Vance and published in Amazing Whatever, there’s this insurmountable barrier.”
Michael Battaglia
There's a branch of early SF that I like purely for how mind-bogglingly bonkers it can be at times . . . one that I like to call the "how do you like them apples?" subset of adventuresome SF, where two opposed forces spend a good chunk of their time opposing each other through successive bigger and stronger means, like a game of oneupmanship that starts out at the level of a nuclear warhead and goes on from there. It's a nice look into how imaginative a writer can be, especially when he or she i ...more
I have this Jack Vance treasury and this was the first book in it (I think technically it is a novella but I'm counting it) it was weird and hard to figure out at first but I was sad it was so short when it came to the end. I wanted to see where else it would go.

It's about two towns at war with each other whose armies are made of "Dragons" (which are more like varied lizard monsters) and they are invaded by an alien race. It was relatively short so not a whole lot else happens but I was pleased
Ана Хелс
За да се напише почти гениална фентъзийна история , включваща елемент от човечеството , захвърлен някъде там между звездите; дракониди от всякакъв тип, водещи люти битки помежду си; мистериозна раса от свръхчовеци, чакащи кротко нашите хуманоидни братовчеди от с ниско ниво да измрат от обичайните си социопатични междуособици, и разбира се – един огромен междупланетен и междувидов конфликт в стил космическа опера за надмощие на биологичния материал, не е винаги нужно да се изписват около двеста т ...more
Roddy Williams
As in many of Vance’s ’lost colony’ tales, this is another society at the feudal level, descended from a planetary colony abandoned by the rest of Humanity. The communities – who breed dragons for sport and warfare – are preyed upon every few decades by grephs, creatures who arrive in long black ships and take away humans as slaves.
Joaz Banbeck is the leader (or lord) of one of the local communities, Banbeck Vale, intermittently at war with his irascible neighbour, Ervis Carcolo.
One of Joaz’s
Solid a novella as it is in its own right, it's almost worth reading The Dragon Masters simply to witness how much backstory, worldbuilding, and flavour Vance is able to weave into 130 or so brisk pages. Ostensibly The Dragon Masters is a straightforward adventure yarn about the leader of one of the universe's last pockets of humanity fending off threats from both within and without (by way of, of course, dragons), but the panache with which he does so can only be the sign of a singular talent i ...more
On the faraway planet of Airlith, a few clans of humans battle each other and the occasional invasion of lizard-like aliens, the Greph from another planet nearby. The Greph have taken human slaves, bred and mutated them into their servants and warrior class. But on one of their ill-fated missions to Airlith, it was the humans who defeated the Greph-bred giants and enslaved the surviving Greph. In the generations since, the humans of Airlith have bred and mutated their Greph slaves into into seve ...more
Tom Meade
I've been eager to read The Dragon Masters for a long, long time. Back when I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time reading coffee table books about science-fiction, and something about the description "Men and reptiles wage war on one another using warriors genetically-engineered from the captured enemy" stuck with me for years after I'd read the two-sentence blurb underneath the cover photo. In my mind, I built-up a fairly comprehensive idea of what such a book would be like - a thought-provok ...more
Fantasy Literature
Jack Vance won the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Short Story for this little gem of a tale which is a favorite of many of Vance’s fans, your present reviewer included. The story takes place vast millennia into the future on a planet known to its inhabitants as Aerlith. Aerlith is a harsh world, where slow rotation leads to long nights and days (analogous to several “earth” days). The human beings living on the planet are descended from spacefarers who fled an earlier interstellar war and who have los ...more
I was excited to be reading Vance after all of these years, but this story was a little bit of a let down. The characters were not fleshed out enough for me, and the descriptions of the dragons/humans was a little hard for me to imagine. I will try another book. The one story I have read from the Dying Earth book (Liane the Wayfarer) was a great read that reminded me of Lord Dunsany.
Not sure why this won the Hugo. It's a decent enough read, though a number of classic Vance elements, the world-building especially, aren't as developed here. Dialogue and characterization also feel a little flat. The wry humor that marks his better works is almost totally absent. Nonetheless worth reading for the excellent (and surprisingly bloody) battle scenes.
Picked it up to read on a plane trip then possibly give to a friend who I thought may enjoy it. Did not offer it to them as it was so "ordinary". Hugo Award winning? Can imagine the main story and "The Last Castle" being made into a 20 minute cartoon for teenagers but that is about it
It's a fun little romp. Vance has an extreme masculine style that is callous, calculating, and heavy on the vocab. I've yet to read anyone that can pull of the stunts that Vance attempts the way that he does. The story is pretty simple, crammed into a hyper-condensed world-builder. It is a weirdo concept and "the reveal" is nicely done without being heavy handed.

What is shocking to me is that for as adept as Vance is at language, that he could end up with such an awkward and embarrassing title a
Joshua Zucker
Pretty interesting novella-length book. I'm definitely left with the feeling that I'm not understanding everything that the author was trying to say with this story. There's certainly a lot on what it means to be human. I find it fascinating that the hero of the story, insofar as there is a hero, is the most indecisive character of them all. There's lots of interesting musing on different ways of communicating and the difficulties of dealing with what might be almost incommensurable languages. T ...more
This is actually two short novels, or novellas, led out by the Dragon Masters, presumably because it won an award, though it is the weaker of the pair.

The Dragon Masters is a conventional tale of genetic manipulation, petty warfare, public nudity and enslavement. I need say no more, all readers are familiar with works of this type.

The Last Castle contains echos of the refined castlefolk of Rhialto the Marvellous, though in a less miraculous setting, these being ordinary descendents of space fari
Daniel Burnett
This is a great book for young adults. It's got enough action to keep you entertained and enough philosophy and insight to make you think for a long while after your finished. Both books in the collection are great reads. I recommend it to all.
Eduardo Cruz
Amazing story. The Dragon Master's background is hard to put into words or even comprehend from the beginning. Jack Vance does an amazing job by pouring equal parts of mystery and action in this soup that tastes both like fantasy and sci-fi.
Despite being one of Vance's more celebrated stories, a re-read didn't really change my view. I'd say it's a 3.5 rather than a 3, but I round down because it could have been better.

Vance starts with an interesting idea (view spoiler) and introduces it in an understated way. But the result lacks the usual Vance narrative charm, and emotionally, the story doesn't go very far. It feels more like a
a reread from the past

I read this in a collection and the basic stuck with me. The first read all those years ago really blew my mind as we used to say
I've read a portuguese edition with only the first novel of this book. This book's premise is very interesting, but the reason I give it only 3 stars it's because I felt it was poorly developed, suffocating the idea's great potential. Instead of a better world and background description the reader is given one battle scene after another. It was too much action. Too little exploration of everything the story's alien and human worl and the different alien and human species, which by the way sounde ...more
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Aka John Holbrooke Vance, Peter Held, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, John van See, Alan Wade.

The author was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California, first as a mining engineer, then majoring in physics and finally in journalism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he contributed widely to science fiction and fantasy magazines. His first novel, 'The Dying Earth', was published in 1950 to gr
More about Jack Vance...
The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth, #1) Tales of the Dying Earth Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse, #1) The Eyes of the Overworld (The Dying Earth, #2) The Green Pearl (Lyonesse, #2)

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