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Songs of the Dying Earth by [Martin, George]
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Songs of the Dying Earth Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Review

‘The Dying Earth is one of the best and most influential fantasy works of the twentieth century’ Terry Pratchett

‘The world that Vance created ranks with Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age as one of fantasy’s most unforgettable and influential settings.’ George R R Martin

About the Author

George R.R. Martin is the author of the bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series and award-winning writer of books and screenplays.
Gardner Dozois is a science fiction writer and editor who has won a record fifteen Hugo Awards for his work. He was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1692 KB
  • Print Length: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TU1QKC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Millions of years hence, the Sun has grown old, bloated and red and is about to go out. In these dying days humanity, now capable of great feats of magic, shares the much-changed Earth with hostile races such as the deodands and pelgranes. This is the vivid setting of Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, four books (now usually published in one volume) which now stand as one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy.

Songs of the Dying Earth is an all-star 'tribute album' by some of the biggest names in modern SF and Fantasy, featuring twenty-three stories set in the Dying Earth setting. Some of the authors employ existing characters (Cugel makes several appearances and is central in Kage Baker's The Green Bird, whilst Rhialto plays a strong supporting role in Glen Cook's The Good Magician), whilst most create their own characters to explore various stories and ideas. Robert Silverberg's entry deals with a peculiar form of maudlin depression brought about by the imminent end of eternity, whilst Matthew Hughes' Grolion of Almery is a crazy mash-up of the Dying Earth and Cthulu with a bit of Little Shop of Horrors chucked in for good measure. Some of the stories are extremely funny, others are tragic or very dark in tone.

One thing that stands out about the collection is its very high quality. The weakest stories in the collection are the ones where the writer tries to evoke Vance's language and fails - 'Caulk the Witch-Chaser' by Liz Williams and Jeff VanderMeer's 'Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod' are notable examples - but even they successfully capture some of the setting's tone and feel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This anthology of twenty-two original new stories is written by top quality authors as tributes to the weird and wonderful Dying Earth created by the late Jack Vance.

George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois are co-editors of the anthology with Martin contributing one of the stories. Dean Koontz leads off with an interesting introduction, and Jack Vance himself offers a page of appreciation to all those who wanted to add another tale to his magical world of the future.

Each of the twenty-two stories has a preface introducing its author and outlining its relevance in the fading times of the Dying Earth, and finishes with an appropriate afterword from its author. Some of the tales are stronger than others, some offer a much more accurate emulation of the unique Vance style than others, but all are well worth while reading, all strongly evoke the memories of Vance's unique future vision, and the anthology would be weaker without them.

But best of all as a long-time fan of Jack Vance with almost a complete collection of his works, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to re-visit old `friends' and their adventures (or perhaps with Cugel, mishaps) in brand-new stories. Now I feel the overpowering urge to revisit all of Vance's books again...
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Format: Kindle Edition
Many years ago, when I was still a moody teenager, I was browsing in a local used book store. I read a lot in those days – still do, but sadly not as much as when I was a teen, as life has a habit of interrupting like it never did when I was a kid. I enjoyed mostly horror and fantasy, with the occasional foray into science fiction. Sci-fi hadn’t caught my attention as much as the other two genres, though I did enjoy Ray Bradbury’s stories, and the Dune series.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I just had nothing better to do on that particular day. Nothing had caught my fancy on any of the many shelves, so I turned my attention to the cheapest of the cheap books, piled in wooden boxes set on the floor. And there it was – Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth. At the time, I’d never heard of Jack Vance, didn’t know what he wrote, didn’t know if he was any good. But the title had caught my attention. In the midst of my depressing and negative teenage angst, the Earth dying had a certain appeal to me. I paid a few coins for the dog-eared paperback and ambled off home.

Hours later, bleary eyed and yawning, I read the final page and closed the cover. Although tired, with a slight headache from reading for too long in poor light, I was ecstatically happy and grinning like a loon. What I had just read, just experienced, was, for me, nothing short of amazing. Pure brilliance. That world, under it’s fading red sun. Those people, in their crumbling cities. The magicians, sorcerers, thaumaturges, with their spells. Spells so vast many years were needed to memorise just one. The creatures, the demons, the created beings. And the stories! Oh, what imagination, what creative genius! I fell asleep a very happy teenager.
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Format: Hardcover
Jack Vance's Dying Earth setting is one of my favourite of all fantasy settings. It's an Earth so far in the future that the Sun is pale and red and ready to sputter and die at any moment, all of which tends to lend the characters who inhabit the world a certain inevitable melancholy. Add to this peculiar setting Vance's own eccentric turn of phrase and you get a truly glorious fantasy sequence.

Influential too, and not just in fantasy literature. The D&D magic system was based on that in the Dying Earth and Cugel the Clever, the cunning and amoral anti-hero of 'The Eyes of the Overworld' and 'Cugel's Saga' has been identified by Gary Gygax as the model for the D&D thief class.

Vance is still with us, but he's in his nineties now. It's nice that this tribute anthology was published now and not too late for him to see.

And what an impressive anthology. I don't know who it was who assembled the authors (22 in all) who each contributed a Dying Earth short story, but there are some very good writers here (including genuine A-listers like George R R Martin, Robert Silverberg and Neil Gaiman).

Some of the authors have used existing Dying Earth characters. Some (but not all) have attempted to write in something approaching Vance's style - a tough challenge for any fantasy author I would imagine. They all, without exception, manage to capture that strange end of days melancholy that is such an important part of the original stories.

Incidentally, if you haven't read The Dying Earth, read Vance's stories first, even if you are tempted to read a short story here by your favourite author. Trust me, you will get so much more out of reading in that order.
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