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Night Lamp (Gaean Reach)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  457 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Found as a child with no memory of his past, adopted by a scholarly couple who raised him as their own, Jaro never quite fit into the rigidly defined Society of Thanet.

When his foster parents are killed in a mysterious bombing, Jaro Fath sets out to discover the truth of his origins--a quest that will take him across light-years and into the depths of the past.
Trade paperback, 380 pages
Published February 15th 1998 by Tor Books (first published 1996)
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90th out of 100 books — 14 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 798)
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mark monday
Jan 14, 2016 mark monday rated it it was amazing
it can be all about the journey, right? it can be about the things along the way, how a place works or how a people think, it can be about taking in the details and experiencing them slowly, at leisure. it doesn't have to be a whirlwind amazing race around the world, stops checked off of a list while on the way to figuring out the next puzzle, it doesn't have to be all about solving the mystery and reaching the final destination to collect whatever prize or face whatever doom is waiting there.

Dan Schwent
Jul 16, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, 2010
A six-year boy is found nearly beaten to death and, in order to save his life, a portion of his memory is erased. He recovers and is adopted and becomes Jaro Fath, an outcast youth on the socially stratified planet Thanet. As Jaro gets older, his desire to find out about his past intensifies until he can resist the call of space no longer! Will he be able to unlock the mysteries of his past?

First off, I have to say I've discovered an advantage of reading using a digital book rather than an analo
Jun 09, 2013 Derek rated it liked it
At least in immediate plot, this breaks absolutely no new ground for Vance: an intense young man operating within an ornate and slightly ridiculous social structure, in pursuit of something unusual, who must discover his competences and have an off-kilter romance with an equally quirky young lady. See also, the Cadwal Chronicles, various Alastor Cluster stories, and so forth.

Even if it is a rehash of ideas, his language and constructions and characters always make it work and always make the rea
Feb 24, 2016 Jaro marked it as read-in-other-edition-to-reread  ·  review of another edition
This is 261 of 600 signed numbered copies of the deluxe limited edition signed by Jack Vance.
Feb 21, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it
Night Lamp is a gem. It's another late Vance SF novel, written next after he'd finished the Cadwal trilogy, and it shares that work's close plotting. He indulges in a couple of his favorite formulae – one's first romantic interest coming to a bad end, and social class struggles being rigidly formalized and overt – but this sort of thing is expected. It wouldn't be Vance without it.

(view spoiler)
Jan 06, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, re-reads
Probably the quirkiest, dorkiest and easily visualized sci-fi/fantasy novel I've ever read!!
May 14, 2015 Srfletcher rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Shit, this took some warming up. The huge majority of the plot is in the final 30% of the book, so prepare yourself for some heavy world building. This was my first jack Vance, and apparently he's a master so I decided to try it, and I did end up liking it, but not for the first 60% of the book. Characters are all shockingly formal in elocution (apparently a style thing) and it took some brain bending to get into it. I liked the world building- clearly creative although I personally found it unr ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Africandreamer rated it did not like it
Shelves: classic-scifi
According to Adam Roberts, who introduces Night Lamp, Jack Vance was "truly the most stylish of writers". Perhaps in another book, maybe?

This book is basically dull. It has a banal plot, set in a cardboard world view, with (almost universally) repellent characters, speaking impossibly stilted dialogue.

The plot: the back of the book says: "Jaro Fath's past is lost - and his future is in peril. Found as a child with no memory of his past (this isn't strictly true, by the way), adopted by a scholar
Dec 17, 2014 Voss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una narrazione dettagliata appassionante inventiva di mondi e personaggi geniale :)
Personaggi drammatici e credibili fino all'ultimo.
Un po' affrettato il finale, ma sta bene così: sarebbe risultato troppo pesante forse.
Jul 03, 2014 Jetamors rated it it was ok
Man, I wanted to like this for its worldbuilding and sardonic tone, but the protagonist is a creep, and the pacing is disjointed. (Please don't spend most of your book setting up a mystery that's fully explained in an infodump 80% of the way through.)
Jun 08, 2015 Hokomoko rated it liked it
Here you find a biographical tale, from youth to adulthood, full of some extraordinarily entertaining, while strange, peoples and situations. Vance oscillates between a kind of tense low-stakes space opera and farcical situations. If the main character hadn't become an action hero (boo!) I would have liked this book much more. Also, the culmination tapered off a bit too slowly for my tastes. What is most remarkable about this story is its similarities with Jack Vance's Emphyrio - a much better c ...more
Edward Davies
Vance takes what could have been a simple story of revenge and twists it into a satirical look at how society compartmentalises people into strict groups that they can never escape from. The characterisation of Jaro is fun, and the supporting characters expertly assist him through his journey to discover what happened to his family and, indeed, who they were. Filled with witty rejoinders and sideways looks at the world, this is an entertaining and multi-layered read.
Seth Kenlon
Oct 25, 2008 Seth Kenlon rated it it was amazing
This is one of my absolute favourite books. When I had a copy of it, I would read it through, and when I reached the end, I'd open it back to the beginning, and re-read it. Vance creates such a vivid world, and such great characters, that the fairly standard plot becomes a secondary concern. It's a very enjoyable and very unique read.
Edwin Kort
Sep 16, 2016 Edwin Kort rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Soms het idee dat er wat in het boek tussen gevoegd was. wat voor doek had het om opeens de doodgewaande broer te voorschijn te brengen als du e later toch weer zou overlijden. ook kamer dat er een verhaal in een verhaal zat.
Stuart Rimmer
Aug 27, 2011 Stuart Rimmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Jack Vance, the language he uses, the worlds and characters he creates, and tales he weaves. This book doesn't disappoint. I can appreciate not everyone will take to Vance, but those who do will like this book very much.
Aug 17, 2009 Hal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The NY Times called Vance an unappreciated sci fi master ( I thought this one was enjoyable, though sort of pulpy.

Jul 22, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Jack Vance's style of writing is my favorite in this genre. Night Lamp is just one excellent example of his mastery over prose.
Nov 28, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it
An excellent book, well written with a great story that unfolds in directions that you just can't possibly imagine.
Shannon Appelcline
Apr 22, 2013 Shannon Appelcline rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Somewhat colorful, but the plot is slow and meandering. In some ways typical of Vance, but not his best work.
Peter Greenwell
Feb 29, 2012 Peter Greenwell rated it liked it
Two thirds of a good book. But Jack lad, you've let me down with that last third.
Robin Benton
Sep 22, 2013 Robin Benton rated it it was amazing
What a great stylist. Compare him to David Foster Wallace or Jasper Fforde.
Mar 28, 2008 Julien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silly, grandiose, old-fashioned pulp science fiction from the master of such.
Aug 29, 2011 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Jack Vance! Read a Vance novel now!
Brendan  McAuliffe
Apr 18, 2012 Brendan McAuliffe rated it liked it
Vancian weirdness at it's finest ~
Michael marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
Jan Keersmaekers
Jan Keersmaekers rated it it was amazing
Oct 18, 2016
LPG marked it as to-read
Oct 15, 2016
Txisko is currently reading it
Oct 11, 2016
Snorbert rated it really liked it
Oct 08, 2016
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Goodreads Librari...: Page Count Missing 2 13 Jun 24, 2015 01:49PM  
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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

Gaean Reach (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Gray Prince
  • Maske: Thaery
  • Araminta Station (Cadwal Chronicles, #1)
  • Ecce and Old Earth (Cadwal Chronicles, #2)
  • Throy (Cadwal Chronicles, #3)
  • The Demon Princes
  • Galactic Effectuator
  • The Dogtown Tourist Agency
  • Ports of Call
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