An odd little book that was published a few years before the Star Wars entertainment juggernaut really got rolling again. That means well before the p...moreAn odd little book that was published a few years before the Star Wars entertainment juggernaut really got rolling again. That means well before the prequels and during a time when only a small handful of expanded universe novels had been released. Thus this encyclopedia is sort of a mash-up of the original films and every miscellaneous Star Wars product that the author could get his hands on. Cartoons, children's books, comic strips, video games, barely connected tie-in novels from the early eighties. It's kind of endearingly eclectic.
That said, I don't know why anyone would want to read this thing now but...I rendered my copy dog-earred back when I was in junior high school. It's also a reminder of a time when all the luster hadn't quite wore of Star Wars and the brand wasn't simply a conduit for third-rate space fantasy. Back then fans were actually eager to see more of this fictional universe because there really weren't that many SW-themed products out there.(less)
Given that this was literally the first book I ever read for pleasure -- as opposed to a school assignment -- I’ve definitely got a soft spot for it....moreGiven that this was literally the first book I ever read for pleasure -- as opposed to a school assignment -- I’ve definitely got a soft spot for it. Unfortunately, that was quite a few years ago and I can’t really remember a whole lot about it, besides the usual -- Drizzt wipes the floor with a lot of nasty underdark types while his nemesis Artemis lingers and plots in the background -- but this was the book that really prompted me to become a lifelong reader.
Which is kind of a funny review but what I think I’m trying to say is if you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, know one, or just have a younger person you’d like to introduce to reading, this is the book that did it for me. Lots of action, lots of style, that’s what Salvatore aims for in his fiction, and he usually delivers it. (less)
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...moreTwo 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 stories involving an unrepentant rogue you’re apt to find this side of Fritz Leiber. An absolute cad, Cugel bounces from one interesting fantasy premise to another -- the stories being a mix of quirky ideas and slanted social commentary -- without ever learning a single lesson or attempting to become a better person. They’re bleakly humorous tales of bad people doing bad things, almost on the order of Evelyn Waugh or George Thackery, all set in a strange world of oddities that manages to feel consistently original and fresh page for page.
Buy this book for Cugel. He’s worth it. Then read Rhialto if you‘ve got the time (and are curious as to the origin of Dungeon and Dragon’s ‘Vancian’ magic system.). (less)