I really shouldn't have read Jack Vance's Rhialto the Marvellous right now. As soon as I started reading it, I realized that I was in the mood for something else; but I also wanted to just finish the big ol' omnibus so I could put it back on my shelf without a bookmark in it, so I decided to just push on through.

At least this time I had an excuse. I have a habit of finding an author, and reading a whole bunch of their stuff in one sitting, until I'm finally so turned off the author that I don't know if I'll read anything of theirs again. I did it with Bill Bryson, I did it with Christopher Moore, and only the immanent quality of Wodehouse and Vance prevent me from having burnt out on them.

So, at any rate, I can't really tell how good this book was. It's my sense that it's somewhat less enjoyable than the other three Dying Earth books, but that's not a judgment I place a lot of trust in. Like the other books, this one comprises a few shorter stories; in this case, each of them feature the wizard Rhialto the Marvellous.

Rhialto is a different sort of protagonist than Cugel the Clever. Where Cugel was largely incompetent and blundered his way through his adventures, Rhialto is a respectable wizard whose appellation isn't especially ironic. It's my suspicion that this saps the narrative a bit, but I can't say that with any certainty.

Well, I'm glad that's done with now. It's always a nice feeling to be able to put a huge brick of a book back on your shelf. Now, I just need to figure out what I'm going to read next; I think some generic fantasy sounds very appealing about now.


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