I’ve always thought that Cugel the Clever (aka The Eyes of the Overworld) is the perfect Jack Vance novel. All of his strengths as a writer are on display here. Thus begins the saga of Cugel the not-so-Clever and the not-at-all-nice. We are given ample opportunities to dislike him. Similarly Cugel is. Cugel the Clever is one of the great archetypal figures in SF literature, the vain trickster in Jack Vance’s post-apocalyptic Dying Earth stories.

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Given the book’s nature as a sequel, spoilers for the previous novel will follow, as well as light spoilers for the opening chapters. The Dying Earth 4 books. At the nearby port of Saskervoy he takes employment as a lowly worminger a crew member responsible for the maintenance of huge marine worms aboard the worm-propelled Galantea merchant ship owned by Soldinck and Mercantides, hoping to reach Almery by sea.

English Choose a language for shopping. Variants of the same theme are the overland sailing wagons of the Wind-runners of the Palga plateau in The Gray Prince and, in Cugel’s Sagathe ship that is towed through the air in chapter IV.

But Cugel’s tongue slips in uttering the incantation, and the flying demon seizes him instead, delivering him to the same spot as before.

Master Twango, the owner of Flutic, deals in the scales, selling them to the firm of Soldinck and Mercantides, whose end customer is Iucounu the Laughing Magician.

The pattern set up in The Eyes of the Underworld is repeated here as Cugel alternatively lies, cheats, steals and tricks everybody he meets along the cugdl, only to get lied, cheated, robbed, beaten and tricked in his turn: The opener, The Murtheis cartoonishly sexist: Nobody writes just like Vance and I never tire of it.

I can’t fault Vance too much for reusing the circumstances: And though he is sometimes debonair and charming, there is a general lack of savoir faire in his predicaments. Our protagonist is Rhialto, ally of Ildefonse, whose adventures are the main focus of the three stories collected here.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database calls Cugel’s Saga “[t]wice as large and less episodic than Eyes of the Overworld “, and catalogs it as a novel rather than a fix-upbut also qualifies that label.

As with the other novels in ‘The Dying Earth’ series, ‘The Skybreak Spatterlight’ is more of the same, with Vance writing effectively stand-alone stories, one to a chapter, with Cugel’s goal in each to either survive, earn money, or both.

Cugel fancies himself a seducer of women, but his charms are apparent mainly to himself, and to certain types of women that wish to use him. Cugel finds himself embroiled in various strange tasks such as diving thhe a swamp for the scales of a fallen demi-god, scrubbing the giant worms that tow a ship, and you’re never quite sure where things are heading. I know of no other writer who would even think of using such an outrageous conceit in a story, clevsr alone one who could manage to make it work as magnificently as Jack Vance makes it work.


The Eyes of the Overworld – Wikipedia

Work, mostly – through situations bizarre and farcical, abd usually of his own making. There’s one startling part of the book where Cugel steals a ship at an opportune moment for his purposeswhere only Madame Soldinck wife of the owner and her three daughters are onboard.

I also read more of the Dying Earth novels, two of them: Here, Cugel decides to return to Almery again, this time to take a definitive revenge on Iucounu.

This is Vance at his classic best. I know there is one more book to read in the series, but I did a sneak preview and I think Cugel is not in it.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Also, his humor here is, I believe, also better as Vance’s style isn’t so “bittersweet” that ‘ The Eyes of the Overworld ‘ had, although you can still see it in some moments, and that personally was something that I liked more here as he’s, too, more enjoyable this way.

Fugel escapes by water, down the River Chaim, as far as the Tsombol Cguel. The writing is very tongue-in-cheek, mixing high-minded language and ideas with low humor, a Like its companion novel, Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel’s Saga is an odd duck of a book, nominally fantasy, but different from most popular fantasy in setting and style.

The dream crystals, contaminated with the alien stuff of the otherworld, cause Duke Orbal violently unpleasant visions when he samples them in order to judge the winner of the Cever Exposition.

Essay on Cugel the Clever – by Alan Robson

The books share only two characters, and as I’ve mentioned, they’re almost the same book anyway. Cugel’s attitudes towards his fellows has likewise improved. This page was last edited on 14 Augustat While still effectively one dimensional, the longer exposure to each character makes their eventual downfall or victory all the sweeter.

Second verse, same as the first. By inveiglement, he persuades Pulsifer to visit the upper world.

Vance excels at atmosphere; while more coh I also read more of the Dying Earth novels, two of them: From Tustvold to Port Perdusz has two sections: Caught red-handed and preferring the option of performing a service for Iucounu in lieu of suffering Iucounu’s Spell of Cuyel Encystment, Cugel is transported to a distant region of the Dying Earth and charged with obtaining fugel of the titular Eyes.


Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. It comes across as a standalone book in an entirely original series which was grafted onto the Dying Earth setting at the last minute, but the job of integrating it into the existing series was only half done.

Well, if that structure was good enough for Homer…. Will the components of space and time retain their integrity after passing through his digestive tract? If I was marooned on a deserted planet and fugel save only one book from the spaceship wreck, this novel would keep me reading quite happily until rescue arrived.

He also set up a booth and advertised himself as The Eminent Seer Cugel who will answer any question for a fee of three terces. It cleverly makes the reader wonder just how ridiculous much of our own pomp and circumstance might appear to an outsider who is seeing it for the very first time.

Cugel tossed over the jewel. This is my plan. Iucounu known across Almery as ‘the Laughing Magician’ had worked one of his most mordant jokes upon Cugel.

Selfish, cowardly and a thief to boot, he tries to steal the treasures of the mansion of Iucounu the Fhe Magician. With less obloquy, Vance describes him as “a man of many capabilities, with a disposition at once flexible and pertinacious.

The English language is masterfully used, often to magnificent comic effect. Compare, say, the Conan stories, where it feels as though treating Conan as an unlikable antihero would be flying in the face of the tone and prompts of the narration. The writing is very tongue-in-cheek, mixing high-minded language and ideas with low humor, and the hero of the story, Cugel, is about as much of a vain, swindling, self-serving rogue as can be imagined.

It helps that the stories are with the exception of The Murthe not based on inherently bigoted axioms, it helps that they’re clearly the product of serious time and reflection rather than being knocked out at speed in order to feed the pulp machine, it helps most of all that I find Vance’s prose, wit, and authorial voice more enjoyable and engaging and rewarding than Howard’s.

Did you only start getting into fantasy after the Peter Jackson movies came out? Much of ghe site’s special functionality was coded by Zane Hooper.

Cugel accidentally discovers the most valuable of the scales, the Pectoral Skybreak Spatterlight, which plays a prominent role in the book.