By Jack Vance
The target of the project from Earth: to prevent the ruthless Barjarnum of Beaujolais from increasing his empire at the immense Planet...and hinder the area from falling lower than this tyrant's domination. Then sabotage forces the craft to crash land, and the survivors face an epic 40,000-mile trek around the risky panorama. A SF landmark. "One of the best writers the technological know-how fiction box has ever known."--Poul Anderson. "Vividly compelling...Vance on the best of his form."--Damon Knight.
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There was a distant sound that he found himself listening to, a far chanting from the steppe, a stave of four notes on a minor scale, punctuated by a rumbling bellow as of a brass horn. The breeze shifted. Smoke from the smouldering zygage drifted through the rapt soldiers to float across the bound Earthmen. Twist, turn as they might, avoiding the smoke was impossible. Pungent and sweet, it blossomed up through their nostrils directly into their brains. For a moment they felt nothing; then as one man they lay back, succumbing to the irresistible power of the drug.
She sprang forward, took a knife from her sash, cut, cut, cut. Earthmen stood about, rubbing their wrists, grimacing at the pain of restored circulation, torpid with zygage hangover. Glystra muttered, “At least we need worry no further about guarding the Beaujolains ... A load off our minds. ” “The gypsies will eat well tonight,” said Bishop. Alone in the group he appeared alert. Indeed, he was more than alert; he evidently retained the mental edge and physical tone which the others had felt under influence of the zygage.
Spring and autumn they raid into Beaujolais and Kerka-ten to the north, Ramspur to the south. The Oust cuts them off from Felissima and the Rebbirs of Eyrie. ” “Typical nomadic society,” inserted Bishop. ” Morwatz said fretfully, “Why are you so interested in the mannerisms of the race? Tonight, they intend to eat us . ” 7 Heinzelman the Hell-horse The sun was at zenith, and the coiled gray-green vegetation of the steppe gave off a smoky aroma. As the column approached, it was gradually joined by groups of Cossacks, who fell in behind the slow-jogging zipangotes.
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