Servants of the Wankh
|Cover artist||Jeff Jones|
|Series||Planet of Adventure|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Preceded by||City of the Chasch|
|Followed by||The Dirdir|
Servants of the Wankh is the second science fiction adventure novel in the tetralogy Tschai, Planet of Adventure. Written by Jack Vance, it tells of the efforts of the sole survivor of a human starship destroyed by an unknown enemy to return to Earth from the distant planet Tschai.
After his starship and crewmates are blown up, Adam Reith is marooned on a planet inhabited by four advanced, mutually hostile, alien species, the Chasch, Wankh, Dirdir and native Pnume, as well as various groups of humans. In his quest to return home, he acquires three human companions (as detailed in City of the Chasch): Traz Onmale, a taciturn teenage barbarian chieftain, Ankhe at afram Anacho, a flamboyant, fugitive Dirdirman, and Ylin-Ylan, a beautiful young Yao woman whom he rescued from a man-hating religious sect.
Ylin-Ylan persuades Reith, her lover, into taking her back to Cath. With her wealthy father's backing, Reith hopes to be able to build a spaceship. As the voyage progresses however, their relationship cools. Anacho explains that Yao society is extremely status conscious, and the closer they get to her homeland, the more Ylin-Ylan dreads being associated with (to her) gauche, uncouth companions. Her attempts to separate herself from them all fail disastrously. Finally, unable to bear the shame any longer, she takes refuge in awaile, a murderous rampage not uncommon among her people, which ends with her throwing herself into the sea.
Reith and his friends continue on to Cath, to notify Ylin-Ylan's father of her demise. They are coolly received, but are eventually given 50,000 sequins (the universal currency of Tschai) as a reward.
Unimpressed with Yao engineering, Reith recruits a crew from those who had worked for the Wankh, to try to steal a Wankh spaceship. The attempt almost succeeds, but the ship is damaged and sets down on a lake due to their unfamiliarity with the controls. They are captured by human Wankhmen, who handle all communication with their Wankh masters.
About to be executed out of hand, the would-be thieves are reprieved when a high Wankh leader, who had been aboard the stolen ship, decides to investigate further. Reith is able to tell it what he has surmised. The Wankhmen have been deliberately misleading the Wankh; the Dirdir have not been a threat to them for centuries, but have been made to appear so, in order to safeguard the Wankhmen's comfortable status quo. Furthermore, they destroyed Reith's ship for the same reason. As a result of these revelations, the Wankhmen are expelled from the Wankh cities. Reith and his party creep away unnoticed.
The editors of the Vance Integral Edition restored the author's preferred title for the first book: The Chasch. They also altered the second to The Wannek and replaced 'Wankh' with 'Wannek' throughout the text. Vance was convinced to change the name after being informed of the meaning of the word 'wank' in British and Commonwealth slang.
- Underwood, Tim; Chuck Miller (1980). Jack Vance. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company. p. 229. ISBN 0-8008-4295-2.