17566502It Jack Vance week on Forgotten Books and here’s my entry.

Humanity had spread throughout the galaxy. Earth was no longer considered more than a fairy tale. Every little cult had settled their own planet and developed from there.

Into this come Earth man Joe Smith. He’s following another Earth man, Harry Creath, always one step behind. He works and saves passage to the next stop, never quite catching up. He’s now a thousand light years from Earth.

Kyril and Mangst are two planets at odds with each other, while needing each at the same time.

Kyril is the planet of the Druids, a gigantic tree the center of their religion. The Priests control the five billion laity with promises of becoming part of the Tree, literally, upon death.

The Mang are made up of several factions seeking control. Joe Smith gets caught up in their machinations much against his will when one ambassador, Hableyat, kills another and dumps the body in the chamber of a Druid priestess, Alfane, Elfane.

Joe’s hustled off Kyril just ahead of the executioners. To his dismay,n3412 he finds Elfane and her escort, Manaolo, aboard the ship headed for Ballenkarch. Joe already knew Harry had been seen there.

Ballenkarch was a barbarous planet united under one Prince and industrialization under way. Both Kyril and Mang wanted in, allied with a planet on it’s way up. A seedling from the Tree was part of the expedition.

Joe finds many surprises upon his arrival on Ballenkarch. And love as well.

This novel was originally published in 1950, likely in one of the SF magazines of the day. Book form in the mid-sixties, and now ebook.

B. V. Lawson is hosting Forgotten books this week over at IN REFERENCE TO MURDER.