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The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance
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The Eyes of the Overworld (1966)

by Jack Vance

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dying Earth (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6241424,177 (3.9)17
The Eyes of the Overworld is the first of Vance's picaresque novels about the scoundrel Cugel. Here he is sent by a magician he has wronged to a distant unknown country to retrieve magical lenses that reveal the Overworld. Conniving to steal the lenses, he escapes and, goaded by a homesick monster magically attached to his liver, starts to find his way home to Almery. The journey takes him across trackless mountains, wastelands, and seas...… (more)

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» See also 17 mentions

English (12)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is the second book in the “tales of dying Earth” and follows the journey of our protagonist, the self-proclaimed Cugel the clever, across mountains, deserts and seas.

Cugel is a selfish, greedy and a remorseless charlatan. He is capable of performing a lot of despicable and ignoble actions to get himself out of sticky situations. He is filled with a sense of his own greatness and despite his self-proclaimed title, we find Cugel to be gullible and often a victim of a trick himself.

This book lacks the sense of wonder which was present in “the dying Earth”. But with Vance’s exotic prose and filled with a lot of irony and dark humour, this makes a wonderful read.
( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
Not as good as the Dying Earth. Cugel is a definite rogue, that is not as clever as he believes. With humorous events his story progresses, and ends with a final smirk. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Sep 6, 2015 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Eyes of the Overworld is the second part of Tales of the Dying Earth and the main character is one of my favorite Vance characters: the self-titled Cugel the Clever. Cugel is not the kind of guy you want to have dealings with — he’s clever, sneaky, completely selfish and remorseless. He is always trying to figure out how he can take advantage of other people in order to make his own circumstances better.

In The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel decides to burglarize the house of Iuounu the Laughing Magician so he can sell some of Iuounu’s thaumaturgical artifacts. But the magician catches Cugel and punishes him by setting him on a quest to procure a lens which allows the wearer to view the overworld.

Cugel is clever, but as clever as he is, he often finds himself facing a foe who, at least temporarily, manages to outwit him (which invariably surprises Cugel). This time his quest leads him on a series of misadventures in which he: gets captured by rat people… is forced to be the watchman of a village… steals more than one person’s inheritance… deals with demons… trades a woman for information… impersonates a god… and travels a million years into the past. Wherever he goes, Cugel, sometimes purposely and sometimes unwittingly, leaves sorrow and destruction in his wake. He deprives people of their hope, their faith and, often, their lives.

This doesn’t sound like it should be very entertaining, but oh, it is! That’s because the story is written in Jack Vance’s singular style: high language, bizarre occurrences, and Vance’s characteristic humor. I hate to say it again, but the best comparison I can make is to Monty Python. If you’re a fan of that type of strange dark humor, then this should be your thing.

I listened to The Eyes of the Overworld in audio format. I can’t express how excited I was to learn that Brilliance Audio was producing these, and I’m pleased to report that they did an excellent job. Arthur Morey once again brought out all of the nuances of Vance’s humor and he made a perfect Cugel. In fact, The Eyes of the Overworld was even better than The Dying Earth, probably because it follows the same main character rather than being divided up into separate short stories. I loved it.
Read this review in context at ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I’ve already said, numerous times, how much I love Jack Vance, so I’ll skip all that this time. You can read other reviews on this page if you missed that.

The Eyes of the Overworld is the second part of Tales of the Dying Earth and the main character is one of my favorite Vance characters: the self-titled Cugel the Clever. Cugel is not the kind of guy you want to have dealings with — he’s clever, sneaky, completely selfish and remorseless. He is always trying to figure out how he can take advantage of other people in order to make his own circumstances better.

In The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel decides to burglarize the house of Iucounu the Laughing Magician so he can sell some of Iucounu’s thaumaturgical artifacts. But the magician catches Cugel and punishes him by setting him on a quest to procure a lens which allows the wearer to view the overworld.

Cugel is clever, but as clever as he is, he often finds himself facing a foe who, at least temporarily, manages to outwit him (which invariably surprises Cugel). This time his quest leads him on a series of misadventures in which he: gets captured by rat people… is forced to be the watchman of a village… steals more than one person’s inheritance… deals with demons… trades a woman for information… impersonates a god… and travels a million years into the past. Wherever he goes, Cugel, sometimes purposely and sometimes unwittingly, leaves sorrow and destruction in his wake. He deprives people of their hope, their faith and, often, their lives.

This doesn’t sound like it should be very entertaining, but oh, it is! That’s because the story is written in Jack Vance’s singular style: high language, bizarre occurrences, and Vance’s characteristic humor. I hate to say it again, but the best comparison I can make is to Monty Python. If you’re a fan of that type of strange dark humor, then this should be your thing.

I listened to The Eyes of the Overworld in audio format. I can’t express how excited I was to learn that Brilliance Audio was producing these, and I’m pleased to report that they did an excellent job. Arthur Morey once again brought out all of the nuances of Vance’s humor and he made a perfect Cugel. In fact, The Eyes of the Overworld was even better than The Dying Earth, probably because it follows the same main character rather than being divided up into separate short stories. I loved it. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Vance returns to his Dying Earth setting and introduces us to the dubiously titled Cugel the Clever. It's a wonderful read, even if the stories within are very episodic, since Vance's prose is a delight to read - few authors manage to marry precision, clarity and lightness of touch so well. There is the odd misstep - Cugel being sent back in time to search for Totality was a weak episode - but overall the collection is very strong and Cugel such a fun character, despite his rogue-ish ways, you can't help but enjoy reading of his adventures. It's not life changing, but it's damn good fun. ( )
1 vote DRFP | Dec 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fabian, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, GregCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poyser, VictoriaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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