Oct 25, 2015

Sirneste Cluster

David Russell's ebook illustration
Two years ago I blogged about the glorious cover art for Trullion by Jasper Schreurs. Today I was lamenting the disintegration of my copy of The Palace of Love, another Jack Vance novel, so I flipped over to the collection of high resolution ebook cover art at

David Russell has made cover art for the Demon Princes novels. His illustration for The Palace of Love depicts a scene on planet Sogdian, in Sirneste cluster.

Kirth and Alusz
One of the things that I like about The Palace of Love is how long it takes us, as readers, to actually get to the Palace. The first part of the novel shows Kirth Gersen dealing with old business that is left over from The Killing Machine. First, Kirth wraps up his romance with Alusz Iphigenia, former resident of the planet Thamber.

Viole Falushe?
The other item of old business is much more business-related. As told in The Killing Machine, Kirth managed to appropriate 10,000,000,000 SVU worth of cash from Alusz. Then, with the help of his financial adviser, Jehan Addels, Kirth invests the money.

One of the first uses Gersen has for the money is buying a small fleet of spaceships. Kirth and Alusz take his new Pharaon across space to the planet Sarkoy, a world where the residents specialize in creating poisons. There, Kirth gets a clue that puts him on the trail of Demon Prince Viole Falushe. However, their time together on Sarkoy makes it clear to the "honerable, generous and kind" Alusz that she can't make a new life for herself by following Kirth on his adventures while he hunts down and murders the remaining three Demon Princes. Kirth and Alusz part, and he resolves to never again involve a woman in the grim necessities of his life.

The Fortunate Folk
Kirth also makes use of his vast wealth to buy the Radian Publishing company, the publisher of Cosmopolis magazine. This allows him to become a "roving reporter" for Cosmopolis. Posing as an employee of Cosmopolis, Kirth goes to Earth and searches for more clues that might lead to Viole Falushe, who grew up on Earth as Vogel Filschner. As a boy, Vogel fell in love with Jheral Tinzy, and his life when down hill from there. After receiving Jheral's cruel rebuff, he turned to a life of crime, a life that he began by attempting to kidnap Jheral.

Kirth first tracks down the "mad poet" Navarth, who knew Vogel Filschner as a boy and who still has an odd connection to Viole Falushe. Gersen is puzzled by Navarth's young ward, the mysterious Zan Zu, who appears to be physically identical to Jheral Tinzy.

Eventually, 80% of the way through the novel, Kirth, Navarth and Zan Zu finally arrive at Viole Falushe's Palace of Love, on the planet Sogdian. Gersen learns that Zan Zu is a clone of Jheral Tinzy. Having failed to win Zan Zu's heart, Viole Falushe plans to force her to give birth to additional clones, as Jheral did previously.

in the Ekcolir Reality
By the end of the novel, Kirth and Zan Zu have developed romantic feelings for each other, but Kirth sends her back to Earth with Navarth and two other Jehral clones who he rescued from Sogdian and Viole Falushe's evil clutches. At the very end of the story, Kirth meets the remaining Jehral clone (Drusilla I) on the Esplanade at Avante and readers are left to wonder how much time Gersen spends with the "immensely appealing" Drusilla.

Related Reading: the adventures of Kirth and Drusilla.

Next: more science fiction from Deep Time
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