The young heir to the Pao throne, Beran Panasper, flees his usurping uncle Bustamonte when his father, the Panarch of Pao, is killed. His refuge is the austereworld Breakness, under one of the planet's ruler-academics - the elderly but immensely powerful Lord Palafox.
Palafox and his peers are obsessed with prestige and dominance, augmenting their bodies technologically, and breeding legions of sons upon indentured women brought from scores of worlds. As years pass, Beran's suspicion grows that the aging Palafox has his own plans for tranquil Pao; returning at last, he finds the planet ravaged by war and upheaval, its placid culture fractured by viral languages designed by Palafox, introduced by Bustamonte.
Beran is determined to restore peace, but if Bustamonte finds him, he is dead. And should he win back the Panarch's throne, he will inevitably face Palafox - who, if senile - is physically more powerful than ever.
Grandmaster Jack Vance turns an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the human mind into a classic SF tale of intrigue, revenge, and madness.
- Matt Hughes
The Languages of Pao is Volume 11 of the Spatterlight Press Signature Series.Released in the centenary of the author's birth, this handsome new collectionis based upon the prestigious Vance Integral Edition. Select volumes enjoyup-to-date maps, and many are graced with freshly-written forewords contributedby a distinguished group of authors. Each book bears a facsimile of theauthor's signature and a previously-unpublished photograph, chosen from family archives for the period the book was written. These uniquefeatures will be appreciated by all, from seasoned Vance collector to new reader sampling the spectrum of this author's influential work forthe first time.
- John Vance II