Everything I just said about The Dying Earth? It also applies to Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld .

Well, not quite all of it, I guess: The Eyes of the Overworld is a more coherent novel. Instead of each chapter focusing on a new protagonist, the entire book follows the adventures of the self-named Cugel the Clever, as he attempts to make his way home safely after being sent to a distant land by an angry wizard. It's structurally similar to Homer's Odyssey, in that it's very episodic (several of the chapters were published as short stories, and would work fine in that format) but has an overriding narrative arc.

Cugel is an interesting protagonist. He's highly amoral, frequently leaving behind him destruction, ruin, and betrayal without a second thought. The odd thing, though, is that the book barely even notices, glancing right over some pretty nasty acts. This would be a horrid flaw in a more mimetic work, but with Vance's stylized, distant prose, it works; Cugel's casual amorality is no more objectionable than that of the Greek or Norse gods.

This book is also rather funnier than the first, in a subtle understated way. The scene where the wizard catches Cugel pilfering his place has some truly great dialogue (though the kind that only works in context, which would require me to quote far too much of it here).

Other than that, though, everything good that I said about The Dying Earth applies in spades here. Excellent, excellent stuff.


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