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Tales Of The Dying Earth (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Jack Vance
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description


The fourth in the Fantasy Masterworks series, the Dying Earth saga inspired writers like Michael Moorcock and Gene Wolfe, who freely acknowledges his debt to Vance in his own Book of the New Sun.

Here, in one volume, is Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author Jack Vance¿s classic Dying Earth saga comprising The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel¿s Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. Travel to a far distant future, when the sun bleeds red in a dark sky, where magic and science is one, and the Earth has but a few short decades to live . . .

Frequently Bought Together

Tales Of The Dying Earth (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) + The Book Of The New Sun: Volume 1: Shadow and Claw (Fantasy Masterworks): Shadow and Claw Vol 1
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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: 19.6 x 12.8 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Somewhere at the end of time, the sun gutters towards final death, science has long ago been replaced by alchemy and demonic invocation and the few inhabitants of the world wander around with a near-psychotic ennui and yearning.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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Magic 4 Jun 2007
By >KrK<
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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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real masterpiece 19 Oct 2005
This is my favourite book of all time and it grows in my estimation each time I read it.
A word to the uninitiated, it carries a wordy prose, and I wouldn't recommend pausing to pull out a dictionary every time you get to a word you don't understand, just soak up the overall ambience.
The book is a semi-dystopia, set in a time when the sun is at the end of its rein. The world is an inherently selfish place with most individuals out to screw over their counterparts (though this is not always the case). The book really captures the romance of decay (as the poets of Venice used to obsess about), and so the stories, despite containing many villainous fiends, are overwhelmingly beautiful tales, and are not in anyway sadistic horror stories.
Tales of the Dying Earth also contains the most reluctant hero ever, Cudgel, who carries all of the selfish traits that embrace this dying and fascinating world. The stories about Cudgel are absolute peaches and very amusing to boot.
Jack Vance (and this is the greatest book to realise this) had the most fantastic imagination and ability to tell his stories in a sublimely clever fashion.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb 12 Jan 2003
This book is worth reading simply for Cugel's Saga alone.
Perhaps the ultimate anti-hero, Cugel's trials and tribulations are often hilarious, sometimes sad, always audacious, and the procrastinator varies between being extremley clever and incredibly unsighted by his own vanity.
Overall, the melancholic atmosphere evoked in this work is almost oppresive at times, and certainly portrays the last days of Earth in a suitably fatalistic manner.
The inhabitants of the Dying Earth are indeed only concerned with living out their final days in as much comfort and splendour as possible, and will take whatever action is necessary to reap profits from others' misfortunes.
Vance is a superb author, and never have I seen a greater use of language than in his works, this being perhaps the most refined and grandiose example of them all. If you want to learn vocabulary, forget the dictionary, read Jack Vance books.
This is indeed a Masterwork, and it is good to see Jack Vance getting some of the recognitian he richly deserves.
This book certainly deserves five stars.
Just so! Precisely so!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy shouldn't be this much fun
This is a compendium of four Jack Vance books set on "Earth" at the end of the age when the sun is dying. Once it gets going, it is very amusing. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr Gordon Davidson
4.0 out of 5 stars Dying Earth
Well produced; some typos, but otherwise a fair copy of these works. A big fan of Jack vance for over 50 years.
Published 9 months ago by Stephen ONeale
3.0 out of 5 stars So many mistakes in this book
I have never before read a published book containing so many spelling mistakes. The occasional typo I would understand, but this book is absolutely riddled with them to the point... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Newtsoda
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
Having read this book series before, it remains an enchanting and interesting departure from the world we live in. Excellent, again !!!
Published on 12 April 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich tapestry
Jack Vance is first and foremost a storyteller in the tradition of Homer, on down though Bocaccio and Shakespeare to Mark Twain and Philip Jose Farmer. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2011 by F. M. Muse
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Tales of a fading world
"Tales of the Dying Earth" is a collection of 4 novels written over 35 years - "The Dying Earth" (1950), "The Eyes of the Overworld" (1966), "Cugel's Saga" (1983) and "Rhialto the... Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2010 by John Middleton
4.0 out of 5 stars All along the watchtower.....
I have never laughed at a fantasy novel or story because the author wrote so well that he made me.I have always laughed at some of the ridiculous writing contained in them. Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2009 by Sam I am
5.0 out of 5 stars Vance can dance
This is my first read of JV which at 56 I must have missed him. What a corker too. Got into it whilst researching into origins of dnd. Read more
Published on 27 July 2009 by Ted Edifier
5.0 out of 5 stars Its a kind of unique sci-fi fantasy mash up
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... Read more
Published on 3 May 2009 by Lark
4.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste, but delicious!
Tales of the dying Earth is just that: a compendium of several stories set around the theme of a far, far future when the sun is on the verge of finally going out. Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2009 by M. J. Bourne
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