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Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
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Tales of the Dying Earth (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Jack Vance

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1,382315,514 (3.91)54
Member:selfnoise
Title:Tales of the Dying Earth
Authors:Jack Vance
Info:Orion Pub Co (2000), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, compilation

Work details

Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance (2000)

  1. 00
    The Hyperion Omnibus [2-in-1] by Dan Simmons (LamontCranston)
  2. 00
    Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg (LamontCranston)
  3. 00
    Hero of Dreams by Brian Lumley (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Pleasing and sardonic stories of adventure, under the shadow of an expiring cosmos (the Earth for Vance, the dreamers for Lumley).
  4. 00
    Xiccarph by Clark Ashton Smith (Z-Ryan)
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» See also 54 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (1)  Greek (1)  All (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
So this was one of those books that have been sitting in my unread pile for awhile, and I read it to reduce that pile (hah!)

So, this volume contains a series of stories set in the days when the sun could go out at any minute. Magic is now back, and the death of the planet at any moment leaves the people remaining a bit audacious and reckless in their actions.

The stories themselves are quite funny, once the lingo becomes understandable. From Cugel the Clever, who stole from a wizard and found himself flung to a distance place, not once, but twice, to Rhialto the Marvelous, a magician following the Blue path, who gets accused of a crime, only to find the Blue Adjutant who will judge the rules, was misplaced somewhere in the past.

There isn't anything deep with these stories. Men are men, women are playthings for men (although every women was willing in these stories) and the world is full of odd creatures, some created, some evolved, some even sentient.

Of course, this was written in the 60's and 70's, and it shows - from the style of writing (overly dramatic) to the stereotypical characters, but it has charm.

Also, I did wonder about the magic - is it technology from an earlier era disguised as magic, or is the magic real. It doesn't really matter in these stories, but it is an interesting idea. ( )
1 vote TheDivineOomba | Aug 10, 2017 |
Manse.

Manse, manse, manse, manse, manse, manse, manse, maaaaaaanse.
Manse. ( )
  porges | Jun 19, 2017 |
could not get interested enough to get past the 1/2 way mark in book 1. ( )
  jimbomin | Jan 23, 2017 |
I've read the first two books in this omnibus and at this point, I'm going to set it down. Not sure if I'll ever return to it. Here's what I think so far:

The Dying Earth - This is really a collection of shorts revolving around different characters who all live in the same world. There were two characters that crossed from one short to the next, but after that, none of the characters came across each other, so I'm not even sure if all the characters in this book are living in the same time period. I didn't really get a great sense of the world (except that Earth is dying and the sun is expected to go out someday, because in almost every story they talk about this). Characters typically just fought one another or went on quests for magical items. But the lack of detail regarding the world, character development and plot made these feel more like reading greek legends or myths than actual stories.

Overall the book felt more like a fantasy novel than a sci-fi, as there's a lot of magic and strange creatures, but very little emphasis on technology. One thing that's clear is that this book was written in the 1950s because it is different than any other sci-fi I've read and does have an "old" feel to it, though I'd be hard-pressed to clearly explain why I feel that way. One thing that does stand out though, is Vance's portrayal of women. They're merely beautiful accessories to men. Even if they're strong (though most are borderline helpless to straight up possessions men use at their leisure), they're strong because of a man. Not a viewpoint I'm used to reading, at least not so glaringly.

The Eyes of the Overworld - Or as I like to think of it, Cugel is an Asshole. Cugel is a magician of sorts, though more someone who sells magical wears. Another, more successful, magical merchant hints that Cugel could steal from a powerful wizard while he's away from his home. So he does, and he's caught. Cugel is punished and sent on a wild quest by the magician to retrieve an artifact he needs. Cugel vows revenge, as he feels that the wizard is in the wrong for punishing him so. Through his travels he meets and takes advantage of various people, gets into further trouble and gets himself back out of it again. He even ends up on a couple quests within his quests.

Cugel was incredibly unlikeable and I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not. He's a complete tool and does his best to take advantage of everyone he can and when he screws up, he faults others rather than himself. Like in the previous book, he treats women like dirt too. The only comfort I took was that at the end, when he tried to pull one over on the wizard and the merchant, rather than exact his revenge, his plan backfired and he was again sent to the far corners of the world.

The next book is called Cugel's Saga and since I can't stand that prick, I'm going to take a hiatus from this book. The only major plus to reading these books was that I learned quite a few new vocab words. I do have a collection of shorts by various writers (including Tanith!) that were inspired by Vance's dying earth universe, and I think I'll pick that up. I'm hoping the voices of other writers might lend some life to this universe. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Jan 23, 2016 |
I've reviewed each book separately, which you can find here on Goodreads, or all together at FanLit's Jack Vance page. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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Series (with order)
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Turjan sat in his workroom, legs sprawled out from the stool, back against and elbows on the bench. (The Dying Earth)
On the heights above the River Xzan, at the site of certain ancient ruins, Iocounu the Laughing Magician had built a manse to his private taste: an eccentric structure of steep gables, balconies, sky-walks, cupolas, together with three spiral green glass towers through which the red sunlight shone in twisted glints and peculiar colors. (The Eyes of the Overworld)
Iocounu (known across Almery as 'the Laughing Magician') had worked one of his most mordant jokes upon Cugel. (Cugel's Saga)
These are the tales of the 21st Aeon, when Earth is old and the sun is about to go out. (Rhialto the Marvellous)
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Disambiguation notice
Omnibus of the four Dying Earth books: "The Dying Earth", "The Eyes of the Overworld", "Cugel's Saga", and "Rhialto the Marvellous".
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Book description
Omnibus of the following novels:

The Dying Earth
The Eyes of the Overworld
Cugel's Saga
Rhialto the Marvellous
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312874561, Paperback)

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. One of his enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequels--a fascinating, baroque tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever.

This omnibus volume comprised all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rialto the Magnificent. It is a must-read for every sf fan.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:42 -0400)

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