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Tales of the Dying Earth: The Dying Earth/The Eyes of the Overworld/Cugel's Saga/Rhialto the Marvellous (The Dying Earth #1-4 omnibus)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,798 ratings  ·  219 reviews
Omnibus edition set in far-future Earth, under dying giant red sun
1 The Dying Earth
2 The Eyes of the Overworld
3 Cugel's Saga
4 Rialto the Magnificent
Paperback, 741 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Orb Books (first published 1964)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Earth is on its last leg. The sun is a red giant, the moon has vanished, and magic has returned.

This omnibus includes the following four books:
The Dying Earth: The Dying Earth is a collection of linked short stories. And here they are:
Turjan of Miir: Turjan, a wizard, seeks the help of Pandelume, another wizard, in creating artificial life. Turjuan is a good intro to the Dying Earth. The basics of the setting are covered and it sets the tone for the rest of the short stories. The story itself is
6.0 STARS. See my reviews of each individual book for my thoughts on that book. As a series, all I can say is that this is one of the best series EVER WRITTEN and the world created by Jack Vance is as good as anything I have ever read. I plan on reading Songs of the Dying Earth Stories in Honor of Jack Vance in the near future and can't wait to see what some of the genre's best writers do with this setting. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Absolutely amazing! I've never read anything quite like Vance's Dying Earth stories, and that's a good thing. I'm not a huge fantasy fan, but this is generically classified as fantasy.

Jack Vance has a knack for language. He uses words that aren't well known but add a different type of depth to the story. The dialogue is unique. It's very formal yet at the same time very witty and full of sarcasm. Other reviews condemn the stories for the florid and formal dialogue, mostly because it's not conve
Sometime in my teen years I all but stopped reading fantasy, and this was because I was only familiar with the dozens of modern purveyors, all of whom I felt were just trying to ape Tolkien in the most awkward and pandering way. I hadn't yet realised that Tolkien had many contemporaries who had their own voices, styles and abilities, who could have taken the genre in wholly different directions had they been as well known. One day, I happened upon the first volume of the Dying Earth tales, and, ...more
Adam Calhoun
I got this book a year ago, partly because I kept hearing how this 'Vance' character was a master fantasy writer that I had somehow missed, and partly because it followed one of my rules for purchasing books (if it has a wizard or a spaceship on the cover, buy it!). The moment I started reading the first novel in this book, I knew Jack Vance was something special. It took me a year to read it because the writing was so good, I wanted to stretch out how long I could read it for the first time. Of ...more
Awesome. Especially the volumes that tell of Cugel and his exploits. Compare him to Tom Jones or Barry Lyndon, but in a surreal fantasy setting on our own world, surrounded by crumbled civilizations and overlooked by a sun that could blink out any any moment.
This collection delivered one of the more pleasant surprises I have ever had borrowing a book: I took this on the advice of a friend, expecting a decent series of old style science-fiction with that corny Xanxxar from Planet Zorkon feel; what was delivered instead was an entertaining, hilarious and wildly creative series of tales set in the far future, when the long-suffering sun is in her final days, feebly emitting barely enough red light to keep things on Earth functioning. The first of the f ...more
Nutshell: assorted losers use the always already imminent destruction of the Earth as an excuse for grave breaches of sense & decency; sadly, the destruction of this Earth is not presented herein.

Though the volume designates a metonym by which the setting stands for a particular subgenre, the setting here is incidental rather than intrinsic to the narratives; the setting predominates conceptually for readers, but is really mere window-dressing for the actual stories. By contrast, the dying o
Chris Youngblood
I guess Jack Vance thinks everyone in the far, far future is a sociopath. :)

If the protagonists (please note I don't use the phrase 'good guys') aren't abandoning their party mates at the drop of a hat, bargaining for their lives with the lives of others, killing or abandoning weaker or vulnerable individuals to survive, or otherwise acting entirely in their own interests, they're probably asleep, and dreaming of ways to act entirely within their own interests.

That being said, I have to give poi
Nancy Oakes
Tales of the Dying Earth is fantastic. It is divided into four parts: The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto The Marvellous.

All of the tales take place in a far-off future Earth in which the sun is dying, and in which the earth's population has dwindled. Magic is the rule of the day.

The Dying Earth is a series of tales which are interconnected, following the exploits of a few people (and some very odd creatures & even a demon or two).

My favorite section of the b
This is possibly one of the best fantasy series ever written.

It is a genre-trespassing epic from the hand of the very master world builder: Mr John Holbrook Vance himself.

In this series he creates a gloomy decaying world in the extremely distant future including traits from science fiction (some technically advanced cities appear in some chapters), high fantasy but also from classical fantasy, so that it is indeed somewhat difficult to place into a specific sub genre.

The stories where original
Scott A. Nicholson
Recommended and lent to me by a friend under the false pretense of science-fiction, Dying Earth summed up everything that I dislike about sword and sorcery fantasy. Admittedly, I only read the first three of this four novel collection and cannot bring myself to read the first.

The first novel is a number of short stories centered around the premise of an Earth so far into the future that the world seems to have completely abandonned modern civilization and now relies on a sort of medievil fuedal
Can't believe I never read these before. Actually I read a couple of the stories that were included in first book ("The dying earth") but all four books here are extremely good. The first is really a collection of short stories that were edited into a continuous novel, although relatively few characters appear in more than one "chapter". The first book is more straightforward sword & sorcery/science fantasy type stuff, with many bizarre settings and characters. The next two books, "The eyes ...more

Set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever, The Dying Earth and its sequels comprise one of the most powerful fantasy concepts in the history of the genre.
Within these pages you will meet lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity, melancholy deodands (who feed on human flesh), and the twk-men (who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt). Each being is morally ambiguous: The evil are charming, the
Vance does a marvelous job suggesting an ancient Earth, with magical developments and pragmatic peoples. It reads real enough, anyway, to imagine outside the self-centered perceptions of its main characters.

You could say there is a surplus of novels based on role playing games. This is not one of them. Dying Earth is rare example where a series of stories became an integral component in the genesis of the fantasy role playing game genre. Having never heard of it before, and being written some tw
Tim Hicks
Well, gosh, this is just so intelligent and effortlessly written and dryly funny and a joy to read. Such a change from the dreck coming out of the tetralogy factories in 600-page volumes. (Yes, a very few of these are actually good - but few.)

When I criticize books here, it's because they show so badly when compared to the work of a true professional like Vance.

You might not care for his dry, low-key sense of humour. Others have mentioned that everyone in a Vance story is out to swindle everyon
All of the dying earth stories in one volume!

I love Jack Vance for many, many reasons-- his influence on Dungeons and Dragons, the detached, awesomely witty, elegant, and matter of fact conversations that his characters engage in, that his writing is probably one of the reasons that I received such high verbal scores on the various standardized tests that I have had to take over the years...

What I found interesting about re-reading the dying earth stories was that I liked Cugel a lot more than
QUESTION: what is a writer to do when he can write neither characters nor plot?

ANSWER: he writes a plotless/misogynistic/paper-thin-character-driven (driven, AH! Dragged, is more like it!) “succession of boring sentences” (sorry, guys, can’t bring myself to write “stories” here) weighed down by stilted dialogue and never-ending description of mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, grass, people, etc., all this using as many pompous and pretentious words as possible so that us, innocent readers that we
Nov 07, 2009 Mohammed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of quality literature of any kind
The finest fantasy collection i have read along with Lord Dunsany's early fantasy collections.

Dying Earth stories and Cugel are a master-work of the field.

Made me a huge Jack Vance fan and it has a place in my affections like no other literature I have read.
Old-school without being cheesy, beautiful scenery, a fascinating world, and speech patterns that will make you smile.
Should you read it? Meh.

While I consider myself a Vance fan, the Dying Earth left me cold. There are some wonderfully inventive ideas here, great characters, and Vance's prose is as well-written as always. The settings, and everything around the stories, are awesome.

But the protagonists (at least for the large sections about Cugel and Rhialto) are apathetic. When I compare someone like Cugel or Rhialto to some of Vance's other protagonists (Sklar Hast from "Blue World" or Paddy Blackthorn from "
This is a collection of Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories, written between 1950 and 1984, and as such it shows different levels of quality. The starting stories, in the section The Dying Earth are the original ones, written for magazines and all independent (although with some returning characters), while the next two sections (Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga) features Cugel as the main protagonist. As such, he comes off as fairly unsympathetic - he is vain, greedy and egoistic - but never ...more
The problem with many kinds of works of real genius is that they live somewhere on the edge of human rhetorical and cognitive space: if a person comes up with something truly novel, then its very novelty makes it difficult to talk about. This problem, as it pertains to Tales of the Dying Earth, is exacerbated by the resemblance, however superficial, that these stories bear to less interesting kinds of literature, and the tendency of the writing to avoid, so to speak, direct eye contact.

This part
This is an ominbus edition of the four Dying Earth books.

From the cover of the book I somewhat expected the setting to be sci fi. Instead it is set so far into the future that there's no reference at all to our time. The setting is pure fantasy and almost all the stories contain a strong element of magic.

The Dying Earth is the first book and is a collection of short stories. I was struck by the dreamy tone of these early stories.

It is followed by two picaresque novels featuring a character nam
A collection of 4 books, two of which are collections themselves. I've heard some describe Vance's dialog as Shakespearean, and I think it's apt; it's hard to imagine some of these characters actually talking the way they do in the book, but it's many many many many millennia in the future so who knows how people truly talk? The pseudo-grandiose nature of many of the characters instead seems to inform their speech perfectly, so after taking a few pages to get used to it I found the writing wonde ...more
Rati Mehrotra
Jack Vance died on 26th May in California aged 96. Enough has been said on the blogosphere about this amazing genius of a writer who wrote over 60 genre fiction books, and I’m not going to repeat it, except to say that he influenced such writers as Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. LeGuin and Michael Chabon. RIP Grand Master. Your words dance across the page, astonishing and marvellous as ever.

What I wanted to do today was talk about the Tales of the Dying Earth and the rascally Cugel, the char
Barbara Shepard
It felt like this was one of those instances where you read a book that feels like such a cliche... because it was the book that created the cliches in the first place. If I recall, Vance was the guy who came up with the basis for the D&D system of magic, where you memorize X number of spells a day out of a book. There are also Ioun stones. So the stories are interesting from a historical perspective, if nothing else.

As a series of stories, these were not my favorites. The main characters a
Tim S.
Two good books and two somewhat bland ones. The original Dying Earth novel is so average you may actually want to skip it altogether or least read it last. It’s a collection of rather pointless meandering fantasy stories involving one note (if that) characters by a young writer just learning the craft. Rhialto is somewhat better, coming as it did later in Vance's career, but still manages little in the way of actual charm.

The Cugel works, however, are probably some of the cleverest fantasy stori
Bill H
Jun 25, 2013 Bill H rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jenny Colvin
The day the library finally told me they had this book ready was the day I heard that Jack Vance had just died. So I don't know; maybe that's cosmically significant somehow. Probably not. Anyway, this was a tremendously fun book to read: it's really a compendium of his four Dying Earth books, so there's no shortage of material here. The middle half, the two "Cugel" books, were particularly entertaining: picaresque, humorous, absurd -- but eminently readable fiction. The first book is a set of sh ...more
I'm not familiar with Vance or his writing beyond his semi-regular name dropping by recent writers of post-apocalyptic fiction. This is an omnibus of 4 of his novels written over 30+ years. The books are divided into short stories all taking place somewhere in the far future of earth; so far in the future that the sun is now weak, red, and may shortly go out. Magic and Science both coexist, and the weight of history is so heavy that any forest or valley may lead to fantastical discovery.

I found
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Aka John Holbrooke Vance, Peter Held, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, John van See, Alan Wade.

The author was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California, first as a mining engineer, then majoring in physics and finally in journalism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he contributed widely to science fiction and fantasy magazines. His first novel, 'The Dying Earth', was published in 1950 to gr
More about Jack Vance...
The Dying Earth Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse, #1) The Eyes of the Overworld The Green Pearl (Lyonesse, #2) Madouc (Lyonesse, #3)

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“What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously. "I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.” 44 likes
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