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Tales of the Dying Earth
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Book Of the Month Discussion > Tales of the Dying Earth -- October 2016 -- spoilers allowed

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 2431 comments Mod
Free discussion of any element.


message 2: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Greason | 56 comments I am finding this a surprisingly hard slog. Had it for years and never read it -- picked it up about six times this month and made it through one chapter and no more each time. The section I'm in has short, episodic bits but not much in the way of an ongoing narrative. Does that change later on?

I certainly can see how D&D drew its magic system from these books, which is why they were on my list to read, and I enjoy the style of writing, but the story is not grabbing me so far.


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 2431 comments Mod
I find him hard to get into, too. I think I find the characters cold.


Will (wlinden) | 51 comments The "Cugel" books switch to a continuous plot. That does not appeal to me myself, as I dislike Cugel too much.


message 5: by Jerry (new)

Jerry (capvideo) | 39 comments Most of the Dying Earth were short stories, even the ones that weren’t written as short stories, I think. The first book (The Dying Earth) is specifically a collection of shorts. The Cugel stories are sort of a narrative, and the Rhialto stories are basically two or three novellas, depending on how you read them.

In general, I find that even the Cugel books and the Rhialto book still end up best read as a travelogue, so to speak, through the Dying Earth. Cugel is definitely unlikeable; Rhialto isn't as bad as Cugel but that's mainly because his sin isn't in being worse than his colleagues but merely in being more successful at his tricks.

It reminds me of something I once read in Playboy (between the pictures), “I am not ashamed that I was once a vacuum-cleaner salesman, only that I was a good vacuum-cleaner salesman.”

That just about every wizard can use a spell as powerful as Temporal Stasis pretty much on demand makes trickery pretty much random by Rhialto’s time anyway. Whoever gets to it last, wins.

Cugel is unlikable more because he’s just not that good than because he’s bad. His plans don’t fail because he tries too hard, but because he’s lazy and incompetent. But as a way of seeing many parts of the Vance’s world, I enjoyed The Eyes of the Overworld immensely.

And somewhat at random, a quote from The Dying Earth:

A surfeit of honey cloys the tongue; a surfeit of wine addles the brain; so a surfeit of ease guts a man of strength. Light, warmth, food, water were free to all men, and gained by a minimum of effort. So the people of Ampridatvir, released from toil, gave increasing attention to faddishness, perversity and the occult.



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