Cadwal Chronicles

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The Cadwal Chronicles are a trilogy of science fiction novels by American writer Jack Vance set in his Gaean Reach fictional universe. The three novels are called Araminta Station (1987), Ecce and Old Earth (1991) and Throy (1992).


Cadwal is a planet of extraordinary beauty. To protect it, the "Naturalist Society" has set up a Charter which allows only limited settlement on the planet in order to enforce the laws of the Conservancy. These laws forbid extensive human habitations, mining and other exploitation activities. Only six "Agents" and their staff are allowed to reside permanently on the planet: their main function is to prevent other humans from establishing residence, although tourists are allowed in specially designed lodges, overlooking sites of natural beauty and interest.

From the earliest days, the Agents recruited members of their own families to help them; but only 40 such family members were allowed, to a total planetary population of 240 (although numbers are swelled by additional non-resident personnel, known as "collaterals"). At his 16th birthday, each resident on Cadwal discovers his Agency status which hinges on an "index number" indicating his genealogical rank. A person whose index number is greater than 40 must leave Cadwal to seek his fortune elsewhere in the Gaean Reach. Thus, the society of Cadwal is a highly stratified aristocracy, where success depends on birth as much as aptitude. The system is designed to minimise the number of residents on the planet but is highly inflexible.

Despite these restrictions an additional groups of persons reside on the planet: the "Yips", who are described as "descendants of runaway servants". Forbidden access to the hospitable continent of Deucas, the Yips are confined to the tiny Lutwen Islands; their extremely crowded settlement is informally known as Yipton.

Much of the story concerns the tensions between the Yips, who would like to colonise the continent of Deucas and have no concern for ecology, and the members of the Cadwal Conservancy who wish to uphold the Charter and keep Cadwal as a nature reserve.


Geography of Cadwal[edit]

Cadwal has three major continents: Deucas, Ecce and Throy. The remainder of the planet is covered in oceans with only a few small islands. Deucas is temperate and most suited to human settlement. Ecce is dominated by jungles and swamps and is baking hot. Throy is cold, with strong arctic winds and a forbidding landscape of mountains and cliffs.

The Conservancy[edit]

The Conservancy is a group of people allowed permanent residence on Cadwal. Their task is to enforce the provisions of the Charter (see below). Most are located at Araminta Station in Deucas but some, the governing politicians, live at Stroma on Throy. These latter persons include the Conservator, nominal leader of Cadwal, who resides at Riverview House.

Only six Agents and their staff were originally allowed to settle at Araminta Station. These agents were: Deamus Wook, Shirry Clattuc, Saul Diffin, Claude Offaw, Marvell Veder and Condit Laverty. Each Agent brought in family members, giving the initial administration "a cohesion which might otherwise have been lacking". In time, this led to an aristocracy of 120 persons – the twenty most closely related to each of the six original Agents – who are allowed permanent residence at Araminta Station.

The Charter[edit]

The Charter is the founding document of Cadwal and serves as its constitution. It forbids human settlement except in small areas with limited population allowed. The Charter grants ownership of the Cadwal to the Naturalist Society in perpetuity. The provisions of the Charter are enforced by the Conservancy, in particular by Bureau B (see next section).

Araminta Station[edit]

At Araminta Station, large mansion houses have been set up to accommodate each of the six original families. Over the generations, these mansions have grown to become palaces. The Station also boasts a hotel for visiting tourists, a spaceport and a theatre: the Orpheum.

Each person at Araminta Station is expected to Serve in one of the Bureaus:

  • Bureau A: Records and Statistics
  • Bureau B: Patrols and surveys: police and security services
  • Bureau C: Taxonomy and cartography, natural sciences
  • Bureau D: Domestic services
  • Bureau E: Fiscal affairs: exports and imports
  • Bureau F: Visitors' accommodations

Since the story revolves around police investigations, Bureau B features prominently in the books.


Stroma is a town in Throy located at an inhospitable location on cliffs. Houses are thin and tall, designed to withstand the adverse weather. The political class at Cadwal live here, chief amongst them the Conservator, nominal planetary leader, who resides at Riverview House.

Politics abound at Stroma. A new and progressive party, called the Life, Peace and Freedom (LPF) party, is sympathetic to the Yips and advocates rewriting the Charter to allow Yip settlements on Deucas. This notion is strongly resisted by the conservative "Chartists" who insist the Charter must never be altered.

The Yips[edit]

Yips have human appearance, with golden skin, and are physically highly attractive; yet they cannot breed with non-Yip humans, leading to speculation that the Yips have formed a new subspecies of humanity. They are inscrutable and have no discernible sense of humour nor any morality recognisable to ordinary Gaean people (whose morality is roughly that of 20th century North Americans). This particularly manifests itself in their sexual practices: the Yips make no emotional attachment to sexual intercourse and will all consent to sex provided a price is paid. The Yips are extremely avaricious and will do almost anything for money. Given their attractive appearance, the Yip females naturally take part in considerable prostitution. Indeed, Yip girls are compelled to take part in this to gain money for the Yip State.

In Araminta Station, the Yips are confined to the small Lutwen Islands. They would dearly love to colonise the hospitable continent of Deucas but are prevented from doing so by members of the Conservancy, who, pursuant their Charter, consider Cadwal to be a nature preserve and prevent humans from forming large settlements. The Yips care nothing for the Charter and feel no kinship to the members of the Conservancy, regarding themselves as a separate nation. Only the superior weaponry of the Conservancy prevents the Yips from overtaking the planet. An uneasy stalemate exists.

Despite this, the Yips are superficially polite to the folk of Araminta Station and are willing to work for them provided money is paid. The Yips gain further money from Tourists who are allowed to visit Yipton and must pay dearly for all services they use there, including sexual services at the notorious Pussycat Palace.

The Yips are ruled with great brutality by Titus Pompo, a dictator whose word is law. Pompo extracts taxes from all Yip activity and has a considerable personal fortune. Any Yip displeasing him is subject to murder and torture: there is no rule of law in the Yip state. Pompo uses much of his tax money plotting schemes to destroy the Conservancy and overrun Cadwal.

Main characters[edit]

Glawen Clattuc[edit]

The novels are in the third person, though they sometimes come close to an omnisicient narrator viewpoint, and are told mainly from the point of view of Glawen Clattuc (with the exception of part of the second novel, which is told from the perspective of Wayness Tamm) . He is an intelligent, capable young man and a member of the Conservancy at Araminta Station. Although his status index number is rather high, Glawen hopes for Agency status. Glawen joins Bureau B, the department responsible for enforcing the laws of the Charter, and quickly becomes embroiled in a plot to allow the Yips to take over Deucas (to the benefit – it is suspected – of several traitors at Araminta Station).

Glawen's first love Sessily Veder is kidnapped and brutally murdered, and Glawen attempts to bring her murderers to justice. He later wins the love of Wayness Tamm, daughter of the Conservator.

Glawen is a typical Vancian Everyman character, similar to Glinnes Hulden and, to a lesser extent, Adam Reith and Kirth Gersen.

Other characters[edit]

  • Scharde Clattuc: Father of Glawen, a competent policeman at Bureau B with IPCC status.
  • Bodwyn Wook: Directory of Bureau B, an irascible, tough leader often compared in appearance to an orangutang (though not to his face). Determined to protect the Conservancy.
  • Sessily Veder: Glawen's first love interest, beautiful, intelligent, rather vain. She was kidnapped and brutally murdered by persons unknown.
  • Egon Tamm: The Conservator of Cadwal, father to Wayness and Milo.
  • Wayness Tamm: Glawen's second love interest. Originally had an "understanding" with Sir Julian Bohost, but spurned him for Glawen.
  • Milo Tamm: Brother to Wayness, strongly pro-Conservancy. Killed as a result of sabotage while visiting Mad Mountain.
  • Arles Clattuc: Indolent relative of Glawen and member of the Bold Lions. A sexual predator eventually punished by chemical castration. He loved Sessily and hated Glawen for winning her affection.
  • Kirdy Wook: A member of the Bold Lions. Studious, considered dull and unattractive to ladies, dislikes Glawen for his romantic success. Captured and tortured by the Yips at Yipton and later appears to be insane, with a pathological hatred of Glawen. Despite this, he is ordered to accompany Glawen on an important mission. Unmasked at the end of the first novel as the murderer of Sessily Veder.
  • Sir Julian Bohost: A high-ranking young politician at Stroma. He expected to marry Wayness, with the support of her mother, until she fell in love with Glawen, to Julian's disgust. May have been involved in sabotage resulting in Milo's death (however, Julian was seriously injured also). A fervent LPFer, Julian is pompous, hoity-toity, and impractical.
  • Titus Pompo: Dictatorial ruler, or Oomphaw, of the Yips. Pompo's identity is shrouded in secrecy as he does not show his face and disguises his voice using electronics. Pompo is locked in a battle of wits with Bodwyn Wook for control of Cadwal.

The Bold Lions[edit]

A club for devil-may-care teenage boys at Araminta Station, advocating bold strategems, drinking parties, outrageous schemes and manly adventures. The club is largely designed to impress ladies, but fails in this regard, as it is considered boorish. Club members follow a complex code including regulation Roars and Growls and dress in lion costumes at festivals. To spy on the Yips, Glawen unwillingly joins the club at Bodwyn Wook's orders. Other members include Arles Clattuc and Kirdy Wook.