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The Eyes of the Overworld (The Dying Earth #2)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,174 ratings  ·  109 reviews
In the dim far future of Earth, when the sun had shrunk to a small red disk in the dark sky and the race of man lived in isolated cities that echoed with the vastness of the world's history, science, myth and magic had become one. Sorcerors who read the books of ancient times held great power, and fearsome monsters created in ages long forgotten stalked the land.

In this w
Mass Market Paperback, Ace #M-149, 189 pages
Published 1966 by Ace Books
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I have already gushed enthusiastic about the opening volume in the Dying Earth epic. It seems I should have kept some of the hyperbole in reserve for later books, as the appeal of the setting and of the characters show no sign of slacking with this second book. It's also interesting to note that the saga of Cugel the Clever is not simply an iteration of a success formula. In many ways it is an improvement over the experiments in style from the first book.

For one thing, the book is better structu
The Eyes of the Overworld is the second novel in Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth. I think I liked this installment even better than the first (which I loved). The story is about the adventures and misadventures of a Cugel the "clever," who is a pretty thorough rogue. I suppose he is clever at times, but he can also be stupid. Fortunately for Cugel, he does have some luck (good and bad -- though the bad is of the non-killing sort). I know this is Fantasy, but if you like the historical fict ...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I’ve already said, numerous times, how much I love Jack Vance, so I’ll skip all that this time. You can read other reviews on this page if you missed that.

The Eyes of the Overworld is the second part of Tales of the Dying Earth and the main character is one of my favorite Vance characters: the self-titled Cugel the Clever. Cugel is not the kind of guy you want to have dealings with — he’s clever, sneaky, completely selfish and remorseless. He is always try
Bill  Kerwin

Underneath the fading sun, Cugel--a hero--emerges. Well, sort of a hero,but more of a trickster. Less Hector, more Ulysses; less Samson, more Jacob; less Tom, and a lot more Huck. Cugel, however, is less likable than any of the these. Selfish, exploitative, and filled with unlimited self-regard, he continually overestimates his own considerable intelligence and fails where a lesser man might have succeeded.

Paradoxically, it is Cugel's flaws and failures that keep us on his side during his picare
5.0 stars. Jack Vance deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robery Heinlein. He is a master story teller and, unlike the aforementioned authors, Vance's books do not seem dated and can be read today with the same sense of wonder as when they were first written. The Dying Earth books are special, timeless classics that should be read and enjoyed by all fans of Science fiction. Superb world-building, amazing characters, like Cugel the Clever, and top not ...more
I am officially in love with Jack Vance's writing and now I want to add Cugel the Clever among my list of favorite characters. Book 2 of the Dying Earth series follows Cugel as he lies, cheats and steals his way across the Dying Earth in order to find a rare artifact for conniving wizard. Vance's prose is so much fun to read and he has a real talent for writing. I can't believe it took me so long to find him.
The Eyes of the Overworld is a great book, but I'm going to take a contrarian stance and say that I actually preferred The Dying Earth. Yes, I can admit that I wasn't totally smitten by the amoral, not-so-clever misadventures of Cugel the Clever after he crosses Iucounu the Laughing Magician. Yes, this book contained all the same sly, tongue-in-cheek humor, the strong imagery of a decaying and run-down world, and the wonderfully-stilted high language used by all the humans and other creatures of ...more
Vance's preferred title, Cugel the Clever, best fits this wandering yarn about a selfish vagabond whose arrogance never falters, no matter how often he is outwitted. A classic anti-hero: You'll laugh when he abandons his damsels to distress; you'll cheer when he finally gets laid.
This was my reading choice to commemorate the upcoming end of the world on Friday, December 21, 2012, the so-called end of the Mayan calendar according to conspiracy theorists and gullible fools. What better choice than one of jack Vance's The Dying Earth series of stories, in this case the second volume of the series, The Eyes of the Overworld. The series is set in a time when our sun is a red giant and could blink out at any time: Our civilization and most of the civilizations that followed it ...more
If your experience with Fantasy is that it is tediously long, badly written, and always involves some morally-beige quest of good conquering evil, then I urge you to read Jack Vance, and in particular the Dying Earth series (collected in "Tales of the Dying Earth"). His immaculate prose and vast command of the English language creates wonderful conversations between characters and a fascinating glimpse into an old version of Earth, basking in the last rays of the sun. Here we have a few last inh ...more
An absolute masterpiece of literature. Every word is sublimely exquisite, and reading this book is a sheer pleasure for those who appreciate language. Deft turns of phrase, arcane vocabulary, and humorous (yet adultly gruesome) situations abound in this classic. A simply magnificent and wondrous book - definitely one that should not be missed.

Do NOT delay - get this book and immerse yourself into the most sumptuous writings you'll encounter. But don't read this book when your mind is cluttered -
Unlike "The Dying Earth", which was an interesting but somewhat awkward collection of interlinked stories set in a fantastical far-future earth, "The Eyes of the Overworld", which follows the adventures of 'Cugel the Clever' through magical landscapes and eras, was a much more coherent and enjoyable story.

Either that, or maybe it just took me some time to get used to Vance's outlandish prose and baroque vocabulary, which I found myself enjoying much more in this book.
This book taught me the meaning of the word "picaresque".

adjective pi·ca·resque \ˌpi-kə-ˈresk, ˌpē-\
: telling a story about the adventures of a usually playful and dishonest character

Cugel the Clever (who sometimes seems like he should be called Cugel the "Clever") allows himself to be persuaded to visit the manse of Iocounu the Laughing Magician while Iocounu is otherwise occupied. Needless to say, it doesn't end well, and Cugel finds himself on a rocky, northern shore facing the prospect of a
Sep 17, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Jack Vance was a great writer in a genre that did not have a lot of respect or wealth during the majority of his life. This is one of the few books of his that I got "new" (vs. from a Used Bookstore) and I was given it to write a review in a student newspaper years and years ago.

It is imaginative, fast-paced and humorous (of the sarcastic variety) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I was aware of (and may have read) the second book of Cugel's adventures, but I did not know that another author
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Eyes of the Overworld is the second part of Tales of the Dying Earth and the main character is one of my favorite Vance characters: the self-titled Cugel the Clever. Cugel is not the kind of guy you want to have dealings with — he’s clever, sneaky, completely selfish and remorseless. He is always trying to figure out how he can take advantage of other people in order to make his own circumstances better.

In The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel decides to bu
And so, continuing on with the "Dying Earth" series, this time following in the footsteps of Cugel (the "clever"), a conniving and amoral rogue as he attempts to fulfil a quest he is unwillingly enrolled on by a wizard.

Cugel is an interesting character, an anti-hero and unusual protagonist for a fantasy novel. He is not especially well endowed with any particular skills or abilities (he's not even particularly clever). He is opportunistic and cowardly, quite willing to sacrifice his friends and
Ĝan Starling
Cugel is my favorite Jack Vance character. I am presently occupied in translating both this and the second book into a hobby, I might add...because I just enjoy them so much and wanted to share (with full permission, of course).

Cugel is no one you'd care to know too very well. He is a rogue's rogue: charming and witty. But you'd have your hand on your purse the whole while he was around. His plans for larceny are often successful...right up to the point where comically they fall a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
-Mucho más picaresca que la primera parte.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. El mercader Fianosther convence a Cugel el Astuto, un ladrón que valora mucho sus propias habilidades personales y técnicas, para que robe en casa de Iucounu el Mago Reidor. Cuando el mago sorprende al ladrón en la faena, a Cugel no le quedará otro remedio que servir a Iucounu buscando unas lentillas violetas de legendario poder, pero para asegurarse la colaboración del ladrón, Iucounu fija al hígado de Cugel
Francesco Manno

The Eyes of the Overworld is the second volume of the cycle of the Dying Earth, written by Jack Vance and published in 1966 by Ace Books. The presence of multiple elements (fantasy / sword and sorcery / dying land), belonging to different literary genres, makes this novel compound and does not let you catalog it in an easy manner.
The story is told in the third person, from the point of view of one character: Cugel the clever, the protagonist. It is set in
I found the main character totally unsympathetic. I guess maybe he was supposed to be something of a loveable scamp, but he pretty much just screws over every single person he meets. The ending is good for a larf though...
A one star plot with a ten star execution, the book lands evenly at five stars. The weak premise of the story is the rogue Cugel's attempt to rob the magician Iocounu, who as punishment sends him on a fetch quest to a distant land. The plot is only there to serve as a vehicle however, for the meat of the book is made up of a series of episodic subplots as Cugel encounters different individuals and communities on his way home, and each encounter is intended as a satire of human flaws that should ...more
Aww, I was actually rooting for the bastard by the end

The book is written in an extravagantly fluid style which employs a great breath of language and vocabulary, and this ornate style doesn’t end with the narration but extends into each and every character that has a voice. From the grand wizards who rule the future earth under the dwindling sun to half humanoid-half crustacean creatures with childish voices, they all speak with the same elaborate tongue. This over the top style of the book is what gives us the fantastic world Vance has created. B
The Eyes of the Overworld is a spectacularly fun picaresque following the adventures of Cugel "the Clever", a rogue living in the times of the Dying Earth billions of years in Earth's future as the sun is approaching death.

Cugel is a complete and utter jerk who goes about his life taking any and every opportunity to take advantage of other people. However, because the far future is a cruel and hostile place, Cugel's antics get him into trouble just as often as his wits (and luck) get him out of
General description
'The Eyes of the Overworld' is the second book of the 'Dying Earth' saga. It focuses on the person of Cugel and his Odyssey to return home to Almery. If you like fantasy and travel literature, you will enjoy this book! I used the word Odyssey on purpose. Cugel is not an able swordsman or an accomplished wizard. Like Ulysses needs to use his wits to survive in the rough world of the Dying Earth. However, unlike Ulysses, Cugel is an anti-hero: he is petty, selfish and immoral. H
Keith Hull
Jack Vance is a great treasure and I fear there aren't many authors, as attuned to my tastes as he is, left to find. I sought him out because the last amazing author I found, Roger Zelazny, had extremely high praises for him. Those praises were well founded.

In The Eyes of the Overworld I was treated to one of the most unique anti-heroes yet. The man, Cugel, is at times detestable, rude, self absorbed, callous, judgmental, ungrateful, a liar, overconfident to an absurd degree, but at the same tim
Vinnie Tesla

All the inventiveness of the first Dying Earth volume is still there, all the wonderful language and delicious turns of phrase. The irony is turned up to eleven now, drowning out most of the first volume's sense of wonder. And the protagonist is thoroughly uncongenial company. Greedy, vindictive, by turns duplicitous and startlingly naive, he cuts a wide swathe of death and destruction through the communities he passes through. He has sex three times in the book, of which one instance is con
Alfredo Amatriain
The second book of the Dying Earth series, published 16 years after the first. And oh, how much the quality of Vance's prose improved in these years.

The backdrop is the same as the first Dying Earth book, but here we have a single story following the long journey of a single character, instead of a collection of unconnected short stories. The tone is very similar to what probably was the best story in the first Dying Earth book, "Liane the Wayfarer"; the main character is a greedy, mischievous a
Wildly eccentric picaresque fantasy story in the vein of P. G. Wodehouse and certain fairy tales, starring an utterly amoral and decadent hero, repeatedly trying to make his fortune and failing hilariously (albeit not without inflicting mass misery on every innocent and not so innocent bystanders during the process) in an utterly amoral and decadent world. Should have been Cugel the Cruel, really.

There are deeper, less cynical, academia- and navel gazer-friendly books out there, also probably s
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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 grea
More about Jack Vance...

Other Books in the Series

The Dying Earth (5 books)
  • The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth, #1)
  • Cugel's Saga (The Dying Earth, #3)
  • Rhialto the Marvellous (The Dying Earth, #4)
  • Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery
The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth, #1) Tales of the Dying Earth Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse, #1) The Green Pearl (Lyonesse, #2) Madouc (Lyonesse, #3)

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“I can resolve your perplexity,’ said Fianosther. ‘Your booth occupies the site of the old gibbet, and has absorbed unlucky essences. But I thought to notice you examining the manner in which the timbers of my booth are joined. You will obtain a better view from within, but first I must shorten the chain of the captive erb which roams the premises during the night.’

‘No need,’ said Cugel. ‘My interest was cursory.”
“The dead man's companions at the counter started to their feet, but halted as Voynod with great aplomb turned to face them. "Take care, you dunghill cocks! Notice the fate of your fellow! He died by the power of my magic blade, which is of inexorable metal and cuts rock and steel like butter. Behold!" And Voynod struck out at a pillar. The blade, striking an iron bracket, broke into a dozen pieces. Voynod stood non-plussed, but the bravo's companions surged forward.

"What then of your magic blade? Our blades are ordinary steel but bite deep!" And in a moment Voynod was cut to bits. The bravos now turned upon Cugel. "What of you? Do you wish to share the fate of your comrade?"
"By no means!" stated Cugel. "This man was but my servant, carrying my pouch. I am a magician; observe this tube! I will project blue concentrate at the first man to threaten me!" The bravos shrugged and turned away. Cugel secured Voynod's pouch, then gestured to the landlord. "Be so good as to remove these corpses; then bring a further mug of spiced wine.”
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