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!
* "Only Lord Dunsany could create worlds, names, atmospheres as magical as Jack Vance s; and Vance is a better storyteller." Poul Anderson
* "You can't possibly pass up any book by Jack Vance. He has perfected the trick of creating new worlds so deceptively real that after a while your own home seems imaginary." Jerry Pournelle
* Be warned: reading Vance is addictive. George R.R. Martin
* A modern classic by one of the great fantasy and science fiction writers of the 20th Century. A rare tale of an Earth so far in the future as to be nearly unrecognisable to the contemporary reader. Raymond E. Feist