The Book of Dreams is the final book of Jack Vance’s The Demon Princes saga. Kirth Gersen must find and eliminate his last elusive enemy: Howard Alan Treesong. As usual, he has the help of his reluctant banker and there’s a new Innocent Pretty Young Female to attend to, also.
The Book of Dreams is reminiscent of The Palace of Love (the third Demon Princes novel), which also featured a sensitive boy turned bad after being bullied and teased by his peers. Kirth finally tracks down Treesong at his high school reunion where he shows up to get revenge on his classmates. That scene was hilarious. There were plenty of other humorous Vanceian elements, too, including an intergalactic magazine contest and a species of sub-humans who had devolved because they don’t eat meat (“the dark side of vegetarianism”).
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Demon Princes novels, but I was hoping for something extra in this final episode — perhaps the most outrageous enemy, a near-death experience, the cleverest plot, the perfect girl — something special to wrap up the series. Vance could have done more with Howard Alan Treesong who had multiple personalities and was planning to take over the universe. He could have been a scarier villain.
The end of The Book of Dreams was abrupt. All through the series, I’ve been wondering what Kirth would do when his life’s work was over. Would he feel relieved? Depressed? Purposeless? This was answered in two lines at the end of The Book of Dreams. I was hoping for more, but Vance chose not to enlighten us. So, I didn’t get the “go-out-with-a-bang” ending or the epilogue I was hoping for, but I’m still satisfied. Kirth Gersen is one of Jack Vance’s best heroes. I’m going to miss him.
The Demon Princes — (1964-1981) Publisher: Kirth Gersen carries in his pocket a slip of paper with a list of five names written on it. Theses are the names of the five Demon Princes who led the historic Mount Pleasant Massacre, which destroyed not only Kirth’s family but his entire world as well. He roams the universe, searching the endless galaxies of space, hunting down the Demon Princes and exacting his revenge.