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Tales Of The Dying Earth (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 13 Apr 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (13 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857989945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857989946
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Somewhere at the end of time, the sun gutters towards final death, science has long ago been replaced by alchemy and demonic invocation and the few inhabitants of the world wander around with a near-psychotic ennui and yearning. The original six stories Vance wrote early in his career are moody and poetic and genially depraved; when he came back to his dying earth, years later, it was in a rather different mood and the two volumes of adventures in which Cugel the Clever proves how little he deserves his sobriquet have much of the poetry, but also a sly wit that was not the early stories' strength. Cugel is incapable of leaving alone anything not nailed down, and much that is; he wanders his world miraculously surviving his own cupidity and treachery--yet is no worse than the smarter, more beautiful people he meets and more often than not better. More recently, he produced the slighter and almost whimsical tales of the magician Rhialto the Marvellous; Vance's poetic and comic strains of invention work effectively in tandem. The Dying Earth collects all of these stories, tragic, comic and charming--they take us to one of the strangest places and attractively affected styles in all fantasy. --Roz Kaveney

Book Description

Vance's fantasy masterpiece, available for the first time in the UK as one volume.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By >KârK< on 4 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Utterly ineffable. Words fail me. In fact, I think the only person capable of describing this masterpiece in words would be Jack Vance himself. But I shall try:

Vance is renowned as an author whose vocabulary knows no bounds - and who frequently stretches the bounds to suit his needs - but he is much more than that... he is a word-magician, a summoner of moods and a conjurer of visions.

"The Dying Earth" is in fact a collection of several short stories that occasionally prove to be related. The brevity of the characters is congruous with the fugitive moments that amount to a lifetime on Earth, and just as we begin to love - or hate - one of them, they are snatched from our grasp and we are left aching to know more.

"The Eyes of the Overworld" and "Cugel's Saga" relate the adventures of Cugel the Clever as he comes across personages as ephemeral as those of the first volume. "Rhialto the Marvellous" is also a collection of related stories based around a rather bohemian group of latter-day wizards.

The tales of witchcraft and wizardry, rogues and rascals and blackguards in unimaginably distant future never cease to amaze. Vance's evocative pasticcio of non-conformist surrealism, spatters of humour and almost poetic eloquence, make this all-too-fleeting visit to the Dying Earth a deeply escapist experience. Lighter-hearted than Tolkien yet gloomier than Pratchett, and completely different in approach to anything else, this is in a class of its own.

Minor downside: LOTS of stupid editing mistakes in this edition, but at this price for all four books, mustn't moan! (By the way, the Foreword that appears to be missing is at the beginning of "Rhialto the Marvellous" on page 584, not of the whole book.)
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By John Davies on 5 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
Quite a good book, but do yourself a favour and avoid this issue, the Fantasy Masterworks edition. Why I hear you ask? I looks as though the book has never been proof read.........
1. The book is bound in such a fashion that you cannot read the left hand pages to the margin without irreparably damaging the spine of the book. This abates at around 100 pages into the book.
2. There are numerous spelling mistakes including a central character being spelt differently three or so times in the book.
3. On page 610, 50 pages into Rhialto the Marvellous, there is a footnote about the "Blue Principals". For further information, according to the footnote, you need to see the forward section of the book. OK I think to myself, and begin leaving in from the cover of the book, looking for an explanation as to what these Blue Principals are. They have been mentioned numerous times on this, and subsequent pages, and low and behold, there is no forward section. Anyone care to tell me what all that is about then?
I have enjoyed the works of literature within this abysmal excuse for a "work of art", as the "Fantasy Masterworks" title would have you believe. The books contained within are good and entertaining, but the avoid this edition like the plague.
The main reason I read this collection was due to someone posting on Amazon that Gene Wolfe's breathtaking saga "The Book of the New Sun", was a "copy" of this collection. Unfortunately, that person was sorely mistaken. This is a very enjoyable collection of stories, Cugels adventures are very good, but in this edition the first 100 pages of the book and Rhialto the Marvellous are marred by bad design and sheer stupidity on behalf of the publishing house.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I confess that this book first seized my attention because I thought it was apocalyptic science fiction (which it isnt really) and because of some truely fantastic cover art work (I have seen a couple of other editions with covers that dont sell the book as much at all, I believe this cover illustrates a tragic story from early in the first section).

My previous experience of reading Vance was an abortive attempt to read Emphyrio (S.F. Masterworks) which I did not like at all and turned me off the author, this book has been so great a read that I've had to rethink my estimation of this author altogether. It was such a pleasure to read, I was so grateful it was a longer book (infact a number of books collected together), the use of language and style are great, evoking memories of both Dune and The Arabian Nights.

The book deals with an impossibly distant future, in which the past, relics of which abound the planet, would still be the distant, distant future of our present (or possibly even the "present" depicted in most futuristic sci fi). The ways in which technology or science have been subsumed within mystical or fantastical systems of thought is reminiscent of Dune (S.F. Masterworks), though unlike Dune there isnt anything which harks back to an earlier/present age like ZenSunni hybrid religosity. The magicians or descriptions of wizardology and weird creatures was reminescent of
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