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The Demon Princes (Demon Princes #1-5 omnibus)

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  454 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
This 2005 SFBC Edition contains all 5 of the stories previously printed in
Vols 1 & 2 : 'The Star King' , 'The Killing Machine' , 'The Palace of Love' , 'The Face ' , 'The Book of Dreams'
Hardcover, 965 pages
Published by Tor Books -Science Fiction Book Club (first published 1986)
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Best Science Fiction Series
104th out of 296 books — 893 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 454)
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4.0 to 4.5 stars. This omnibus collects all 5 volumes of the excellent, and under-rated, Demon Prince series by Jack Vance. Kirth Gersen is the sole survivor of the "Mount Pleasant Massacre" that was perpetrated by five arch-criminals known as "the Demon Princes." Each book follows Kirth as he tracks down and gets revenge on one of the Demon Princes. I have reviewed each of the individual installments elsewhere so I will just reiterate my basic impression of Vance as a writer in this series.

Jan 06, 2016 Jean-marcel rated it it was amazing
I would like to review each book individually at some future point, as it's something I intend to re-read soon. For now though, I can't hold back from offering some general commentary on what is, in my view, one of the most rewarding multi-volume sagas in genre fiction.

Revenge. We're told from a young age these days that it's not such a noble motivation. Nevertheless, society counters this by making revenge the theme of hundreds of movies, books and shows. Some of these are undeniable classics,
Jun 09, 2014 Neale rated it liked it
Jack Vance’s ‘Demon Princes’ series, written over almost twenty years, is an amalgam of the three styles at which he excelled. And a curious hybrid beast it makes, perhaps the most distinctive example of Vance's always distinctive style, if not always the best of his books.

The books are nominally science fiction, and scrupulously observe all of the tropes of the genre. It is great fun to see how Vance obeys the rules while blithely doing his own thing – no professional genre writer was ever less
Chris Gager
May 17, 2016 Chris Gager rated it really liked it
Jack Vance died recently so I thought I ought to devote some reading time to him. Apparently a lesser known but highly regarded Sci-Fi writer. I know I've read some of his short stories but this is the first novel-length book for me. It's actually 5 books in one stretching from 1964 to 1981.

Started last night and already happy with my choice. It's a fairly standard quest/revenge tale set in the future of humanity in and on new worlds in "outer space", but very literate and well written. Notes:

Muhammad Rasheed
Apr 25, 2015 Muhammad Rasheed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: influences, re-read
Jack Vance is my favorite writer, and my number one biggest creative influence. It's hard to name a favorite character of his that stands out. There's a bunch of characters of his that are absolutely wonderful to me. There are types of characters that he created that influenced almost everything I write.

After his truly great magicians from The Dying Earth and Lyonesse, my next favorite character types of his that Vance was really good at creating were his villains, the best of which were feature
Phil Tucker
Aug 31, 2011 Phil Tucker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
Absolutely five stars. Jack Vance has the deftest touch, and when it comes for intricate plotting, brilliant dialog, dry wit, and unbounded imagination he can't be beat. He's in a class of his own, and this collection of the Demon Princes is him at his best. There are very few novels that I find an absolute delight to read, where I am so comfortable and eager to just sit back and enjoy the tale, that stumbling across this series made it an absolute pleasure.

I'll skip the summary, since that shou
Sep 10, 2014 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
Can't remember the last time it took over a month to finish a work of fiction-of course collected all together this saga is about 1000 pages.

Vance's best work after his two Cugel novellas.

An interesting dynamic is at play with these stories. The protagonist is nothing but a cypher, a type of everyman version of a badass. He investigates intergalactic criminals who once wronged him and ends them in fitting ways. But the real stars of these novels are the villains he must learn the weaknesses of
Jun 13, 2013 Meghan rated it liked it
There was some imaginative world-building and fascinating inter-planetary societies in these interrelated stories, but I found that the pacing of the narratives wavered. Many of the stories tried to draw suspense from narrative twists that were too predictable and at times, I found the endings anti-climatic, too "pat" for the kind of morally grey world that the Oikumene seems to be. The treatment of the female characters also annoyed me - for the most part, they felt like flat characters there t ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing
One of the collections that established Jack Vance among the all-time greats of science fiction. This Omnibus of five novels follows Kirth Gerson as he gains his revenge against the five villains who massacred his planet. Vance's greatest achievements for me are the ways he invokes so many different human cultures with telling detail that ties directly into the plots. Characters speak using terms that Vance gives wonderful twists that heighten the feeling of 'being there.'

This collection is 'mu
Jun 04, 2015 Jean-Paul rated it it was amazing
This volume is a collection of five books originally published between 1964 and 1981. The flavor of the stories changes a bit as they go on, but the overarching themes of vengeance, redemption, and space adventure stays pretty consistent even though the stories were written across a nearly two decade period. To be fair to the individual stories I'll do a short review of each book contained in this collection.
The Star King: This volume sets the stage and introduces us to our protagonist and to th
Innanzitutto, perché questo volume è intitolato "I cinque re stellari"? Due risposte possibili:
1) chi ha scelto questo titolo si è letto soltanto (e molto di sfuggita) qualche pagina del primo libro, e ne ha tratto delle sue personali erronee conclusioni;
2) l'ha fatto perché così suona più fantascientifico che non "I cinque principi demoni", e potrebbe vendere meglio.
In entrambi i casi, è una presa in giro del lettore.
Noto che anche nella recente edizione di Urania il curatore della quarta di co
Erik Nygren
Aug 14, 2013 Erik Nygren rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
At a young age, the small settlement where Kirth Gersten lives is raided by the five infamous demon princes and him and his grandfather barely escape with their lives. In this five book saga he seeks revenge on each one in turn.

Vance has a strange way of writing, the books feel very detached and unemotional. On one level it feels a bit boring, but at the same time it seems congruent with Gersten's damaged upbringing. The many worlds described by Vance are great, the universe he describes is imp
Jan 26, 2008 HonRevDrStainTruth rated it it was amazing
Things to help you read Vance:

His characters are beside the point -- they are not bourgeois exercises multi-dimensional, versimilitudinous(sic) character. Rather think of what it would be like if Henri Mattisse and Gustav Klimt got together one day to do some cut-outs for their backyard kabuki theater.His protagonists are cardboard by design, pure functionality to drive you through his world.

His plots are quite another -- he didn't win a nebula and an edgar for nothing!

underlying all of this is
May 10, 2015 Raymond rated it it was amazing
The Demon Princes is similar to Lyonesse and Planet of Adventure/Tschai in that it's a collection of novels featuring a continuous story that becomes stronger with each part, the first few novels being considerably weaker than the latter. As such, just like The Dirdir was the third and best part of Planet of Adventure, so too the stories of the takedown of the last couple of Demon Princes are far more compelling than the first few. I found they were compelling enough however to justify a five st ...more
May 10, 2010 John rated it liked it
The Demon Princes is a more conventional story from a less conventional author. It keeps Jack Vance's signature style, but tones it down a bit and applies it to a procedural story. It's a fun read, but I doubt anyone will list it as their favorite of all time. If you want an easy way to get acquainted with Jack Vance, and a Sci-Fi spy story sounds good to you, then check it out. If you really want to get to know Jack Vance though, go read The Eyes of the Overworld.
Dec 28, 2015 Christian rated it did not like it
I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that—rather than being representative of his other works—The Dying Earth was a once-in-a-lifetime burst of genre-bending creativity from Jack Vance. I plodded through The Star King, The Killing Machine, and most of The Palace of Love before I dejectedly returned The Demon Princes to the library. There's nothing era/genre substandard in this work, but the paralyzingly pedestrian nature of the tale was too much to overcome.
Nov 28, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
Five different novels dealing with the same theme, revenge of the Demon Princes for killing his family.

I made the mistake of reading the first three novels back to back to back. During the third I could feel myself losing interest as the stories were too similar to allow that kind of reading.

So, I spaced the 4th and 5th novel out months apart, and was I rewarded. Jack Vance's descriptive style of writing, his world building and narrative style proved interesting and entertaining.
jana lafleur
Mar 24, 2015 jana lafleur rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not worth $20

This was a horribly boring book. I lost interest in book 4 and put it down for a month. Picked it up again but really skimmed through. The excerpts at the beginning of every chapter were annoying as were the many * throughout. The ending was so abrupt it left me angry. I at least wanted to know what Gerson did with himself after everything happened. Im a big Jack Vance fan but this book is a flop and definitely not worth $20 for an ebook.
Feb 15, 2016 Iguanaditty rated it liked it
I read the first two books of the omnibus. I enjoyed the first book quite a bit, but by the end of the second the intentional lack of characterization of the main character was getting to me and I petered out in the third. I get that the most interesting people were supposed to be the demon princes but most of the action of the book takes place away from them. I wanted more demon princes!
Jim Williams
Sep 28, 2014 Jim Williams rated it it was amazing
Jack Vance is one of the most underrated authors that I am aware of. I began reading Vance's Dying Earth series but then discovered his other works. The Demon Princes is my favorite Vance book. Buy a copy and read it. You will want to re-read it. Very low key and subtle.
Jun 19, 2008 Jacqueline marked it as taking-a-break
Star King - 4 stars
The Killing Machine
The Palace of Love
The Face
The Book of Dreams

A little dense and hard to get through way back when I was reading it.

Began reading The Killing Machine when I stopped.
Danielle Ste. Just
Apr 21, 2015 Danielle Ste. Just rated it it was amazing
I love this series. I can never decide which novel or scenes I like best.... Kirth's maudlin romance in The Face? The hilarity of the counterfeiting scenes in The Killing Machine? The strange denizens of Maunish and Bethune? I love them all.
Jun 07, 2013 Sbulf rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Primo libro ottimo, poi il ciclo si perde. Opinione mia.
John Cesarone
Aug 24, 2013 John Cesarone rated it it was amazing
My favorite series by Vance. Works great as action, science fiction, mystery, and psychological thriller. And I love the double meaning of the "demons" that torture the hero.
Mar 02, 2014 Jorbegozo rated it liked it
Lo recordaba mucho mejor de mi adolescencia... Leyéndolo ahora me ha parecido demasiado simple y previsible.
Will rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2008
Robert rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2012
Scott rated it it was amazing
Jul 16, 2011
Brian O'Sullivan
Brian O'Sullivan rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2013
Martijn Icks
Martijn Icks rated it it was amazing
Aug 15, 2013
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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 grea
More about Jack Vance...

Other Books in the Series

Demon Princes (5 books)
  • The Star King (Demon Princes, #1)
  • The Killing Machine (Demon Princes, #2)
  • The Palace of Love (Demon Princes, #3)
  • The Face (Demon Princes, #4)
  • The Book of Dreams (Demon Princes, #5)

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“Somewhere there is mystery. It impels one to theosophy: to the worship of a space-god, or a god of light.” “Theory dissolves the mystery, though it lays bare a cryptic new stratum. Quite likely there is an endless set of these layers, mystery below mystery.” 2 likes
“Public convenience or dignity means nothing; police prerogatives assume the status of divine law. Submissiveness is demanded. If a police officer kills a civilian, it is a regrettable circumstance: the officer was possibly over-zealous. If a civilian kills a police officer all hell breaks loose. The police foam at the mouth. All other business comes to a standstill until the perpetrator of this most dastardly act is found out. Inevitably, when apprehended, he is beaten or otherwise tortured for his intolerable presumption … The police complain that they cannot function efficiently, that criminals escape them. Better a hundred unchecked criminals than the despotism of one unbridled police force.” 1 likes
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