Yet again I am delighted to have encountered (through the Gollancz SF Masterworks series) a book I would never otherwise have read.
Ghyl Tarvoke is a curious young man, who drifts aimlessly through his young world, allowed by his father the freedom to live somewhat outside the strictures of society. When his father is killed for contradicting the simplistic understanding of the police and judiciary, Ghyl rises beyond his childhood dreams of star flight and adventure to uncover truths worth sharing.
The story unfolds slowly, with a tempo that only gradually rises in the second act, and which finally hits its stride well into the third act. Vance takes the time to build the environment of his characters in lavish (but never tiring) detail. Thus, we care when Ghyl makes his break from polite society, and delight when the rough cloth of his society finally shows signs of unraveling.
This is a very good book, well worth the time to read.