Magnus Ridolph, at first glance, did not look like an interstellar troubleshooter. He was not tall and muscular, his skin had not been turned to a rugged colour of bronze by the numerous distant suns he had visited, and his voice and manner seemed far too mild for an adventurer.
Yet there was a chill hardness in his mild blue eyes that warned of the deceptiveness in his appearance. Throughout the galaxy there were men and other beings – Yellowbirds, Tau Gemini ant-things, Hectian anthropes – who could testify to the deadliness that lurked behind those eyes.
In Magnus Ridolph, Jack Vance has created one of the most memorable characters of his award-winning career.
John Holbrook "Jack" Vance (1916–2013) was an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction writer. Though most of his work has been published as by Jack Vance, he also wrote 11 mystery novels using his full name John Holbrook Vance, three under the pseudonym Ellery Queen, and once each using the pseudonyms Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.
Vance won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and he was a Guest of Honor at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made him its 14th Grand Master in 1997 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001, its sixth class of two deceased and two living writers.