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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ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. Pulsifer engages Cugel in conversation while Phampoun sleeps.

From Cufel, the free encyclopedia. Best of the Years Fun! Cugel would have Pharesm believe the entire catastrophe could have been averted had only the wizard offered a meal while he waited. These usually involve Cugel entering a village, pretending to be a gentleman and getting involved in some profitable scheme, and eventually having to flee or being run out of town.

Vance does provide us with one, but the journey, adventure, creativity and humor is really what is so captivating. Cugel eventually ends up off the ship and stranded in the village of Tustvold where he meets the quarry caretaker named Nesbit. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally.

After crossing the desert Cugel ends up in the town called Gundar where the last remaining Solar Emosynary exists. I have more than once embarrassed myself on the bus while reading this passage. They may impress you as strange, grotesque, laughable, disgraceful, picturesque or commendable, depending upon your point of view. Daring action wins the day more often than it does in the later books, and violence is more common – ugly, visceral violence at that.

The prose is mannered and lush but it repays careful reading for it is delightfully witty and often laugh out loud funny. A new thought occurred to Cugel.

Then he is employed as a watchman for a caravan of seventeen virgin maidens who are being transported to a temple in the city of Luarth where they hold an annual religious ceremony.

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It centres on the travels and misadventures of Cugel “the Clever” a distinction he assigns himself but is not necessarily reflected by his actionswho as the story begins is cajoled into attempting a burglary of the manse of Iucounu the Laughing Magician. And most of you will like it a lot. Sailing the Ocean of Sights as your dlever captain with a personal harem ready to satisfy your every whim should give Cugel an early taste of Paradise, cugeo we all know who we’re dealing here with: Yet he does this kind of thing again and again in book after book and he makes it all seem so effortless.


As I have siad in my previous reviews of the other Dying Earth books, superb world-building, great characters and tons of fun. 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 fugel husbands higher in cufel world.

Read more Read less. Vance doesn’t give me an impression here that he really had a clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish here, which isn’t the case for any of the three previous books.

Between the opening episodes, in which Cugel is dispatched on his quest and obtains an Eye, and the closing episode in which he completes his mission and attempts to get the better of Iucounu, the book essentially consists of a series of unfortunate events – some inflicted upon Cugel, some precipitated by him – that occur during Cugel’s journey across this naughty Earth. Cugel is known as The Clever for a very good reason.

The Eyes of the Overworld is a fantasy fix-up novel by American writer Jack Vancepublished by Ace inthe second book in the Dying Earth series that Vance inaugurated in Compare, say, the Conan stories, clevwr it feels as though treating Conan as an unlikable antihero would be flying in the face of the tone and prompts of the narration.

Essay on Cugel the Clever – by Alan Robson

As such The Dying Earth possesses a unique atmosphere in which morbid, dark fantasy and witty, erudite comedy exist in a delicate balance.

He still lies, cheats and steals, but more often to those who have wronged him. Cugel finds himself embroiled in various strange tasks such as diving in a swamp for the scales of a fallen demi-god, scrubbing the giant worms that tow rhe ship, and you’re never quite sure where things are heading.


Vance is at his literary best, with beautiful, original language sketching characters and actions from base to idealistic, with the would-be urbane Cugel taking it all in stride. Most of the fun comes from the desperate efforts of Cugel to avoid getting his hands muddied while stealing as many of the scales as he can.

During the s and s, he contributed cugdl to science fiction and fantasy magazines. Cugel flees across a barren waste known as the Pale Rugates and finally comes to the town of Gundar, the site of the last remaining Solar Emosynaries, who stimulate the combustion of the dying sun by projecting the heat of a fire at the solar orb through a contraption made of lenses. The nice thing about episodic picaresques, of course, is that “more of the same” isn’t that all bad so long as the author has fresh ideas for episodes, which Vance offers in spades; the downside is that if The Eyes of the Overworld wasn’t your thing, this won’t be either.

Jack Vance Website – Essay on Cugel the Clever – by Alan Robson

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. At Tustvold chapter III. It is truly a classic fantasy masterpiece.

The second book in Jack Vance’s Cugel saga, and third novel in ‘The Dying Earth’ series, ‘The Skybreak Spatterlight’ once again follows the rogue Cugel across fantasy wastelands in a world where the cpever threatens to extinguish at any moment. Pharesm’s response to Cugel’s failed misdirection xugel spot on: My edition is pages so it is considerably longer than the page The Eyes of the Overworld.

Please try again later. Well Mr Vance, you may be modest, but your legions of fans know better. You never know what Cugel will come across next and how he will manage to get in trouble again and again. What is your belief?