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Knight in shining armour, he is NOT. What saves Cugel is his absurdity, his wit, his instinct for self-preservation which so often backfires — no, actually none of those. What saves Cugel are his repeated failures to accomplish his goals of accumulating wealth and power and defeating Iucounu the Laughing Magician.

This brings me — by a rather long route I admit — to what makes characters empathic to a reader. Perhaps your character is damaged in some way by the past. Or he saves the world by mistake from an alien starship. You get my drift. The Dying Earth series consists of the following books and each one is worth a read from start to finish:. Unpretentious and unassuming, Jack Vance claimed in an interview with Locus online that he wrote to make money and because he had the knack for it.

Well Mr Vance, you may be modest, but your legions of fans know better. Your vivid prose and colorful characters ensure that your stories will be read for a long, long time to come. Rati Mehrotra. Skip to content. Share this: Twitter Facebook Email Tumblr. Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Email address:. Please provide an email address.

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Delta's D&D Hotspot: Origins of Thieves Using Scrolls - Cugel the Clever

Nobody writes just like Vance and I never tire of it. He and Jack Vance have entertained me for many an hour as I commute back and forth to work. Iucounu known across Almery as 'the Laughing Magician' had worked one of his most mordant jokes upon Cugel. For the second time Cugel had been snatched up, carried north across the Ocean of Sighs, dropped upon that melancholy beach known as Shanglestone Strand. Rising to his feet, Cugel brushed sand from his cloak and adjusted his hat. He stood not twenty yards from that spot upon which he had been dropped before, also at the behest of Iucounu.

He carried no sword and his pouch contained no terces. The solitude was absolute. No sound could be heard but the sigh of the wind along the dunes. Far to the east a dim headland thrust into the water, as did another, equally remote, to the west. To the south spread the sea, empty except for the reflection of the old red sun. Cugel's frozen faculties began to thaw, and a whole set of emotions, one after the other, made themselves felt, with fury taking precedence over all. But if one may think that Cugel is doomed one would be naively wrong.

View 2 comments. Jack Vance is one hell of a storyteller. I may have gotten off on a slightly wrong foot with the first Tales of the Dying Earth, but once I fell into the groove in the second novel, it and the third are a pure delight. Because it's nonstop trickery, confidence games, theft, and conscience-less knavery.

He never stops running. He amassed and lost massive wealth in equal measure to each chapter. Quite delightful. And cruel. View all 3 comments. This book is a similarly picaresque episodic adventure in the slowly crumbing world of the Dying Earth, as creatures, magicians and humans live their varied lives in the waning days of the fading red sun before it goes dark.

What struck me about this entry is that Cugel has gotten less and less clever, and more often finds himself not in control of the situation. Cugel accidentally discovers the most valuable of the scales, the Pectoral Skybreak Spatterlight, which plays a prominent role in the book. As I mentioned in reviewing Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel is not nearly as clever as he thinks, and this time he ends of doing a series of odd jobs part-time gigs, if you will to get by, generally against his will, and while on occasion he manages to enjoy some fine foods and luxury, these moments end abruptly and his ill-gotten gains are soon lost.

If this is a morality play, then it is quite repetitive. And though he is sometimes debonair and charming, there is a general lack of savoir faire in his predicaments. The recurring theme throughout is how completely bound all these societies are to bizarre, meaningless traditions and practices that they slavishly adhere to. It is obvious to the reader that these practices are patently absurd, but not once does anyone question them except for Cugel, who believes in nothing but his own survival. For instance, in one village social status is denoted by the height of columns upon which husbands spend the day basking in the limited sunlight, the higher the better, and all the schemes of the wives to get their husbands higher in the world.

Kinda like the corporate ladder, methinks. Also, Cugel seems to have lost some of his mojo, which is disappointing. View 1 comment. Jack Vance was a fairly prolific Sci-Fi writer, so you have to wonder why it took him so long 17 years! After reading Cugel's Saga , I figure Vance knew he had a good character, and any revisiting would have marred his amazingly amoral creation. Any return would have run the risk of just being a case of rewriting the original tale. Now there are plenty of genr Jack Vance was a fairly prolific Sci-Fi writer, so you have to wonder why it took him so long 17 years!

Essay on Cugel the Clever - by Alan Robson

Now there are plenty of genre writers who do exactly that all the time, but to Vance's credit, he wanted to show some movement for this very special character. The good news is that he did, while still retaining much of the Cugel of old. Cuglel's Saga opens where the first book left off, with Cugel on a beach, a world away from his home. He had been dropped there by a demon -- the result of a "joke" by Iucounu the Laughing Magician. In truth, this shouldn't of happened, since Cugel, after a series of misadventures, actually had the upper hand on Iucounu.

But Cugel's own greed -- and gloating, did him in. And yet, pissed off, depressed, without sword or money, he nevertheless gets up and brushes the sand from his cloak, and adjusts his ridiculous three tiered hat. And there, in the second paragraph of the story, Vance tells you everything you need to know about Cugel. He's a survivor who always gets up after being knocked down.

What follows, structurally, is a story that is very similar to the first novel, with each chapter standing alone as a story within a story. Overall you see Cugel's movement toward his return and hoped for revenge, but you also see Cugel's development as a character. He still does a lot of bad things, but it's almost always to people who have done him wrong. There are also a number of occasions where Cugel shows loyalty to those who have been kind to him.

In fact, it's his last friendship s with a group of damaged wizards -- and their son don't ask me to explain , that helps Cugel in his final confrontation with Iucounu. The rogue of the first novel is now the likable rogue of the Saga. What doesn't change is the laugh out loud comedy of each story, which is heightened by the formal language the characters use. I especially liked those portions where Cugel would engage in insult battles with other characters.

And those other characters, bizarre, eccentric, are often as much fun as Cugel himself. It's like he's stuck in Oz -- as scripted by Monty Python. Easily one of the best books I've read this year. A perfect beach book. The Dying Earth novels by Jack Vance, of which this is the third, are in a class by themselves. They are classics in the true sense of the word and are as good today as they were when they first came out.

As I have siad in my previous reviews of the other Dying Earth books, superb world-building, great characters and tons of fun. Highly recommended. Cugel tossed over the jewel.

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Now, please free me from this tentacle. Cugel called out a plaintive appeal: "Do you remember how I rescued you from the pelgrane? An important philosophical question has thereby been raised. You disturbed a stasis and now a tentacle grips your leg, which is, in a sense, the new stasis. I wi Cugel tossed over the jewel. I will reflect carefully upon the matter. Iolo built up a campfire over which he cooked a stew of herbs and grasses, which he ate with half a cold fowl and draughts of wine from a leather bottle.

Leaning back against a tree he gave his attention to Cugel. This year the prize is one thousand terces, which I intend to win with my 'Bagful of Dreams'. A program of impersonation? A hallucinatory gas? I carry with me a number of pure unadulterated dreams, coalesced and crystallized. He held it up into the firelight where Cugel could admire its fleeting lusters. How do you gather these dreams? On the calm nights the surface of the water thickens to a film which reflects the stars as small globules of shine.

By using a suitable cantrap, I am able to lift up impalpable threads composed of pure starlight and water-skein. I weave this thread into nets and then I go forth in search of dreams. I hide under valances and in the leaves of outdoor bowers; I crouch on roofs; I wander through sleeping houses. Always I am ready to net the dreams as they drift past. Each morning I carry these wonderful wisps to my laboratory and there I sort them out and work my processes. In due course I achieve a crystal of a hundred dreams, and with these confections I hope to enthrall Duke Orbal.

He fed several logs into the fire, chanted a spell of protection against creatures of the night, and composed himself to sleep. An hour passed. Cugel tried by various means to ease the grip of the tentacle, without success, nor could he draw his sword or bring 'Spatterlight' from his pouch. At last he sat back and considered new approaches to the solution of his problem.

By dint of stretching and straining he obtained a twig, with which he dragged close a long dead branch, which allowed him to reach another of equal length. Tying the two together with a string from his pouch, he contrived a pole exactly long enough to reach Iolo's recumbent form. Working with care Cugel drew Iolo's satchel across the ground, finally to within reach of his fingers. First he brought out Iolo's wallet, to find two hundred terces, which he transferred to his own purse; next the opal ear-bangle, which he dropped into the pocket of his shirt; then the bagful of dreams.

The satchel contained nothing more of value, save that portion of cold fowl which Iolo had reserved for his breakfast and the leather bottle of wine, both of which Cugel put aside for his own use. He returned the satchel to where he had found it, then separated the branches and tossed them aside. Lacking a better hiding place for the bagful of dreams, Cugel tied the string to the bag and lowered it into the mysterious hole. He ate the fowl and drank the wine, then made himself as comfortable as possible. The night wore on. Cugel heard the plaintive call of a night-jar and also the moan of six-legged shamb, at some distance.

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In due course the sky glowed purple and the sun appeared. Iolo roused himself, yawned, ran his fingers through his tousled hair, blew up the fire and gave Cugel a civil greeting. It is useless, after all, to complain against inexorable reality. I have given considerable thought to your case. I have arrived at a decision which will please you. This is my plan. I shall proceed into Cuirnif and there drive a hard bargain for the ear-bangle. After satisfying your account, I will return and pay over to you whatever sums may be in excess. He uttered a plangent cry and stared at Cugel.

They are gone, all gone! How do you account for this? At approximately four minutes after midnight a robber came from the forest and made off with the contents of your satchel. Why did you not cry out in alarm? I feel this direction didn't work nearly as well as many other reviewers say. Vance gets too bogged down with the world-building and detailing the various oddjobs available in his dying Earth.

And while Cugel still schemes and cheats only one or two of his actions really reach the audacious heinous levels of his previous mischief in The Eyes of the Overworld. It wasn't until the last few stories where Vance mostly abandoned this approach does Cugel's Saga reach the heights of the other three Dying Earth books and it is in the worthwhile portion of the book where the above passage came from. At least the struggle of wills and wits between Cugel the Clever and Iucounu the Laughing Magician does have a satisfying, amusing conclusion.

A re-read of a book in Vance classic Dying Earth series. It is still an imaginative work by one of the best wordsmiths in english letters. The story of Cugel is so absurd,witty it can be read for how wonderful it is story-wise and if you like quality prose styles, high level language. He is more than a legend in SF,Fantasy, he is a great artist of literature period.

Which makes it near impossible for me to write reviews about his best works. The scoundrel Cugel is a great character and one of my A re-read of a book in Vance classic Dying Earth series. The scoundrel Cugel is a great character and one of my favorites in literature. I dislike him and like him at the same time.

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Second verse, same as the first. When last we left our hero? And o Second verse, same as the first. And once again we'll see that "the Clever" may not be entirely an appropriate sobriquet As with the previous book, it's not about the destination; it's all about the journey, and about losing yourself in Vance's elegant and sardonic prose. Cugel's Saga was first issued as a novel in Two of its sections or stories were published earlier. This story placed tenth for the Locus awards as Best Novelette. My copy is 23 pages long.

It is reported to be the last story Vance published in a magazine. The Bagful of Dreams was first published as a novelette in May as part a hardcover anthology titled Flashin Cugel's Saga was first issued as a novel in The Bagful of Dreams was first published as a novelette in May as part a hardcover anthology titled Flashing Swords! This is a great novel. It is one of Vance's finest and most creative fantasy novels and is highly recommended. Cugel's Saga is currently available in a Kindle edition and apparently a trade paperback edition from Orb Books as part of the collection called Tales of the Dying Earth.

This is the copy I have and highly recommend it. The Eyes of the Overworld was primarily a fix-up novel because all of the stories except for two had each been published alone prior to the novel. Cugel's Saga is composed of 13 related stories and all except for two were first published as part of the novel. So Cugel's Saga is only a partial fix-up novel and it reads like a novel rather than like a collection of stories.

Since it continues the storyline of The Eyes of the Overworld, that novel should be read first to fully appreciate Cugel's Saga. My edition is pages so it is considerably longer than the page The Eyes of the Overworld. But the adventures in Cugel's Saga, despite its length, are fewer than in its companion novel. In Cugel's Saga they are just more detailed and developed; some readers might find them more mature.

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  4. Both of these novels are simply amazing and Cugel's Saga is, if anything, even more interesting and better written than The Eyes of the Overworld, but I rated both of them at a 5. There are six chapters to Cugel's Saga: I. From Shanglestone Strand to Saskervoy has two sections: 1. Flutic and 2. The Inn of Blue Lamps. From Saskervoy to the Tustvold Mud-flats has three sections: 1. Aboard the Galante, 2. Lausicaa, and 3. The Ocean of Sighs.

    From Tustvold to Port Perdusz has two sections: 1. The Columns, and 2. On the Docks and 2. The Caravan. From Kaspara Vitatus to Cuirnif has two sections that were previously published as novelettes: 1. The Seventeen Virgins and 2. The Bagful of Dreams. From Cuirnif to Pergolo has two sections: 1. The Four Wizards and 2. Spatterlight is also the name of the wonderful publishing company that is issuing so many out of print Vance works. In Cugel's Saga we again join Cugel the Clever, a self serving, con artist, anti-hero, trickster character who calls himself the Clever but often does not live up to his self titled name.

    Cugel's behavior is almost always self-serving and often dishonest. When he does behave decently, with no apparent ulterior motive, it usually backfires on him.