Gastel Etzwane had held total power in the Land of Shant: the brooding musician, turned man of action with his corps of Brave Free Men, rid the land of slavery and alien invaders in one masterful stroke-only to discover the greatest threat of all - alien parasites of inconceivable intelligence and unfathomable purpose. Their expulsion from Shat has been celebrated by all, but Etzwane is uneasy. For wild rumours come out of the hidden land of Caraz-and once again the musician must don the cloak of action, setting out on a dangerous quest for knowledge that will take him farther than he ever wanted to go: to the grim reaches of a hideously alien world, there to learn the secret of the Asutra!
Jack Vance (1916-2013)
John Holbrook Vance was born in 1916 and studied mining, engineering and journalism at the University of California. During the Second World War he served in the merchant navy and was torpedoed twice. He started contributing stories to the pulp magazines in the mid 1940s and published his first book, The Dying Earth, in 1950. Among his many books are The Dragon Masters, for which he won his first Hugo Award, Big Planet, The Anome, and the Lyonesse sequence. He has won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, amongst others, and in 1997 was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.