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Tales of the Dying Earth

Vance, Jack (Book - 2000 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Tales of the Dying Earth
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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.
Authors: Vance, Jack, 1916-2013
Title: Tales of the dying earth
Publisher: New York : Tom Doherty Associates, [2000]
Edition: 1st Orb ed
Characteristics: 741 p. ;,21 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Jack Vance
Notes: "Originally published together under the title The compleat dying earth by the Science Fiction Book Club in December 1998"--T.p. verso
Contents: The dying earth
The eyes of the overworld
Cugel's saga
Rhialto the marvellous
ISBN: 9780312874568
0312874561
Branch Call Number: SF VANCE
Genre/Form: Fantasy fiction
Fantasy fiction, American
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Jul 24, 2013
  • MATT MORGAN rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This series caused me a lot of frustration. It gets on a lot of "best fantasy books" lists, and I can see why, but I struggled with it. It has all the pluses and minuses you're used to if you read a lot of fantasy. For example, some minuses:

1) need to move the story along? Create some unrealistic coincidence!

2) need to get the hero out of an impossible jam? Invent some new spell or magic power!

3) Want to create a sense of otherworldliness? Make up a new word for something that doesn't exist, and don't explain what it is!

4) Want to undermine the whole pretense that the people of this world are debauched and extravagant because the sun is about to blink out? Let most of the main characters travel time and space, so why would they even care!?

That said, if like a lot of people you read fantasy for that sense of otherworldliness, this series has it. I picked it up because its known to be some of the inspiration for the magic system in Dungeons and Dragons, and I did manage to finish it. If I knew ahead of time, though, I would have read only the first book, which is a series of barely-connected vignettes. It shows how the magic works and sets the tone for the world, without falling victim to most of the complaints I note above.

Apr 28, 2013
  • skylar2 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This book starts out well, but the combination of overly-dense and overly-verbose writing quickly becomes tiresome. The books transition from a somewhat interesting plot with interesting characters, to a less interesting plot and totally unappealing characters, to both the plot and characters being completely unlikable. Vance takes the filibuster approach to writing, so even plot points that should be gripping are sleep-inducing.

To top it off, even though the book is supposedly about a dying Earth, there is no sign of it. Much as one might like it to come.

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