Marune: Alastor 933

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Marune: Alastor 933

Author: Jack Vance 

Illustrator: Ned Dameron

Publisher: DAW, republished 1981

ISBN-13: 9780879975913

ISBN-10: 0879975911

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 16 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Science fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Vance, Jack.   Marune: Alastor 933 (Published in 1975 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House Inc., 201 E. 50th St., New York City, NY  10022).  A mysterious young amnesiac is found at Carfaunge Spaceport on Bruse-Tansel, planet 1102 of the Alastor Cluster, a system ruled from his fabulous palace on the home world of Numenes by the Connatic Oman Ursht.  Given the name Pardero, the wanderer is referred to the Connatic’s palace on Numenes for assistance with his quest for identity. It is determined that his society of origin is the planet Marune, number 933 of the Alastor Cluster, a world lit by four shifting suns, and inhabited by two groups, the Majars and the Rhunes.  The Rhunes, a strange and rather strict people, are further divided into several small warring kingdoms in the Mountain Realms.

     When Pardero returns to Marune, he has two goals.  The first is to find out who he is, and the second is to find his enemy, the person who stole his memory.  He learns that he is Kang (Prince) Efraim, son of Kaiark (King) Jochaim, ruler of the Rhune kingdom of Scharrode, who had been recently killed, supposedly during a battle with the neighboring kingdom of Gorgetto, and finds that his step-brother Kang Destian, son of his father’s second wife Kraike (Queen) Singhallssa, is to be installed as Kaiark in the absence of the true heir, while the widowed Singhallssa plans to marry Kaiark Rianlle of Eccord, another neighboring kingdom.  Just why did someone (or ones) erase Efraim’s memory and send him to Bruse-Tansel?  Is it possible for him to regain his memory?  And will he be able to find his sworn enemy before something worse happens?

     I was amazed!  Here is a modern pulp science fiction book that has no bad language, not even a “d” or “h” word that I recall, and no overt sexuality.  There are some references to Rhune mating practices, but nothing vulgar or obscene.  While I list science fiction as a separate category, any kind of plot—adventure, romance, even allegory, etc.—can be placed in a science fiction setting.  Marune is a science fiction mystery, the middle volume of the Alastor trilogy.  Number one is Trulion: Alastor 2262, and number three is Wyst :Alastor 1716.  Other books by American mystery, fantasy, and science fiction author “Jack Vance” (pen name of John Holbrook, 1916 – 2013) include The Dying Earth, Lyonesse, Araminta Station, Tschai, and The Moon Moth.  I agree with the reviewer who wrote, “The predicament of the protagonist got my attention from the beginning of the tale.”

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