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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In the magazine serialisation of the novel, at the end of “The Overworld” the character Derwe Coreme rides off in her walking-boat never to be heard of again, and at the beginning of “The Mountains of Magnatz” Cugel finds himself alone in the northern wasteland.

Well Mr Vance, you may be modest, but your legions of fans know better. It begs the question; it assumes the larger part of its own response; to wit, that a sensible response exists. He often acts on impulse rather than depending on careful planning, and he does not hesitate to take advantage of others if it will serve his own interests. There is much more to the story, but it would disclose too much to discuss it.

In The Eyes of the Overworldthe episode involving the Busiacos narrated at the beginning of chapter 3, “The Mountains of Magnatz”, differs substantially from the novelette published in the February issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Cugel Saga

We receive referral fees for all purchases not just books. He trades one to bandits for safe passage, and leaves another to drown. In the sequel Cugel is no longer gazing across the sea but has stood up and is striding back and forth, shouting and cursing. The usual Vancian wit is in evidence, but it doesn’t have a strong plot or even particularly novel scenarios to back it up, and Rhialto’s struggles to get Osherl to obey seem to serve little purpose other than to pad the story out until Vance hit the page count he was aiming for.

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For example, he bribes a priest, with all of his very valuable magical items, into tricking fifty pilgrims into a futile pilgrimage, to guard his crossing of a perilous desert – only fifteen survive. It is another scam to cheat others so he can raise enough money to leave town. In due course I achieve a crystal of a hundred dreams, and with these confections I hope to enthrall Duke Orbal.


And his trials were very amusing. What struck me about this cleved is that Cugel has gotten less and less clever, and more often finds himself not in control of the situation.

Cugel especially with his brand of cowardice and amoral innovation has remained a favorite. Cugel, a charming but completely amoral man who ends up on a long and complicated quest when he is caught trying to burglarize a wizard’s home, and his complicated adventures in attempting to extract revenge on said wizard.

Refresh and try again. I have more than once embarrassed myself on the bus while reading this passage. As far as stories about godlike wizards at the end of time go Moorcock wipes the floor with Vance on more or less every measure with the core Dancers at the End of Time cllever.

Added flavour arises from two sources: Published April 20th by J’ai lu first published In contrast, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun – which he readily admits is a tribute to The Dying Earth is so verbose and packed with archaisms that a lot of its meaning is impenetrable on a first pass.

The Eyes of the Overworld – Wikipedia

Works by Jack Vance. Vance’s sense of humour draws mildly on both but has an original character all of its own. Cugel’s Saga Dust-jacket of the first edition. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Sep 03, Mark Lawrence rated it it was amazing. Second verse, same as the first. During each of these episodes, Jack Vance uses his characteristic humor to highlight absurd human behavior.

Twitten’s Almanackths of Vance’s Lyonesse mythos, describes a number of such otherworlds, of which only Tanjecterly will support human life: Sorry, your blog cannot share flever by email.

This does not excuse the fact that the deodand are black-skinned anthropophagic devils in human form, mind – a trait which may explain their diminished role or outright absence from later volumes in the series, the “well-spoken creature that wants thw eat you” role being filled in by the noble and entirely non-humanoid pelgrane.

If this is a morality play, then it is quite repetitive. These violet cusps are the remnants of the sense-organs crafted by the demon Unda-Hrada for its invasion of this plane; just as they allowed Unda-Hrada, a creature from the sub-world of La-Er, to perceive goings-on here they also allow wearers hailing from our plane to perceive matters in the Overworld, the wonderful realm where all blossoms to its full potential. Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. I hide under valances and in the leaves of outdoor bowers; I crouch on roofs; I wander through sleeping houses.


What’s a bombastic rogue to do?

Essay on Cugel the Clever – by Alan Robson

Get to Know Us. This year the prize is one thousand terces, which I intend to win with my ‘Bagful of Dreams’.

Best of the Years Fun! The book is almost twice as long as the previous one, but I didn’t notice it as the urge to turn the page and read the next adventure made the long journey pass in a flash. The genre, if one has to define it, is science fantasy. This is the copy I have and highly recommend it. The Skybreak Spatterlight is central to the plot at a number of points, for example, during Cugel’s encounter with the magician Faucelme.

For punishment he is placed in a dungeon like temple in the ground where he is suppose to confess his crimes to the giant demon named Phampoun.

This has the clefer of allowing Cugel’s cleverness and sometimes lack thereof to shine. The framing story is unoriginal, identical in most aspects to Cugel’s first book: Vance puts a lot of effort into the preparation of the dishes his characters imbibe on their adventures.

Cugel’s behavior is almost always self-serving and often dishonest. 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 way, only to get lied, cheated, robbed, beaten and tricked in his turn: Your vivid prose and colorful characters ensure that your stories will be read for a long, long time to come.

Why do Freemasons roll up one trouser leg?

All of that, wrapped in some killer prose with periodic injections of wicked humor. I also enjoyed the audiobook narrator’s inspired choice of making Cugel sound like Richard Nixon.