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Feb 6, 2017

The Palace

cover art by Philippe Druille
I recently blogged about the original version of The Star King as published in Galaxy magazine. The Palace of Love by Jack Vance was also published in Galaxy with interior artwork by Dwight Morrow. The three issues of Galaxy that held the story are available online.

Part I
I don't recommend reading the version of The Palace of Love that was published in Galaxy. It appears to have been shortened by the editor. Near the beginning of the Galaxy version of The Palace of Love there is brief mention of the planet Sarkoy, but Vance's account of Gersen's visit to that world is missing. In my copy of the DAW edition of The Palace of Love, there are 26 additional pages about Sarkoy at the start of the story that did not appear in Galaxy. With a few clicks you can buy a copy of the complete story.

bar fight with the white-eyed man spills into the
alley behind the Celestial Harmony Cafe
Much of The Palace of Love takes place on Earth after Kirth Gersen learns that Demon Prince Viole Falushe was born in Europe.

Having stolen 10,000,000,000 SVU in The Killing Machine, Gersen uses some of his vast wealth to buy Cosmopolis magazine. He uses his credentials as a writer for Cosmopolis to carry out his search for Falushe. In one of many humorous scenes, without revealing that he now owns the company, Gersen visits the headquarters of Cosmopolis magazine in London in order to get his Cosmopolis identification card.

Gersen bar hopping with Navarth and Drusilla.
Gersen's investigation of Falushe's past leads him to the "mad poet" Navarth and his ward, Drusilla Wayles. Navarth knows how to contact Falushe and he arranges for a meeting at the Celestial Harmony Cafe.

After an evening of bar hopping, Gersen is at least half drunk by the time they cross paths with Falushe, first glimpsed as a man standing along the bar. Gersen won't allow Drusilla to go to Falushe and he gets into a fight with Falushe's body guard, the "white-eyed man".

Part II
Navarth's party
I feel sorry for the readers Galaxy who had to wait two months for the next part of the story. Navarth arranges for a party that will attract Falushe and allow Gersen another chance to confront the Demon Prince.

The guests at the party must all wear disguises. There are naked serving girls at the party, who Vance described as "young girls". I've always imagined them as prepubescent, but the illustration by Morrow depicts them as full figured.

fun on Sogdian
At Navarth's extravagant party Gersen has another confrontation with Falushe which is interrupted by the arrival of a squad of police. After the party, Falushe kidnaps Drusilla. Gersen and Navarth receive an invitation to visit Falushe's Palace of Love on a far planet.

travel to the Palace of Love
When Gersen and Navarth arrive on planet Sogdian, they are given a wild ride into town by a surly driver (see the image to the right). They are then flown through space to the secret world where the Palace of Love is hidden away. First they spend a few days in "City 10", waiting for the arrival of all of the guests who will visit the Palace of Love.

source
At each step of the journey, Vance is having great fun depicting annoyances large and small for the travelers, particularly Navarth who would have preferred to remain at home on Earth.

After their ordeals, Gersen and Navarth are pleasantly surprised when Drusilla arrives. Now assembled, the guests set off for the Palace of Love.

Part III
Gersen suspects that one of the male guests is actually Falushe, but neither Gersen or Navarth knows for sure. Arriving at the Palace of Love, the guests scatter to different parts of the park-like environs and Drusilla again disappears. Gersen searches for and eventually finds Falushe's hidden headquarters.
Gersen penetrates the hidden headquarters of Viole Falushe, but he is knocked unconscious and ejected.

source
After sneaking into the headquarters of Falushe, Gersen is not made welcome. Still playing the role of a writer for Cosmopolis, Gersen escapes with his life after learning that Falushe is conducting experiments on a group of people who he holds as prisoners, including several clone sisters of Drusilla. Drusilla is a clone of Falushe's childhood love, Jheral Tinzy. Now, having rejected Falushe's advances, Drusilla is to give birth to a new generation of Jheral clones.

In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Stephen Fabian
Falushe is obsessed with his goal of winning the love of "Jheral", even though she is long dead. Since this is only the third of 5 Demon Prince novels, it need come as no surprise that Gersen defeats and kills Falushe and liberates the prisoners who Falushe held in the Palace of Love.

I like to imagine that there was a greater purpose behind the Palace of Love and Falushe's secret experiments. According to Zeta, in the Ekcolir Reality there were additional stories published that provided details about human breeding experiments on Sogdian using the clones of Jheral Tinzy.

Next: looking back at The Gods Themselves
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