The Dying Earth

by Jack Vance
Series: Dying Earth 1
Reviewed date: 2007 May 6
Rating: 3
130 pages
cover art
cover art

The Dying Earth is supposed to be Jack Vance's masterpiece, but it looks like uninspired fantasy to me. The imagery and words are classic Vance, but the story seems a bit plodding. But the truth is I just don't enjoy fantasy as much as science fiction.

Also, my favorite part of Jack Vance is his characters; specifically, the unapologetically self-interested egoist main characters. Those characters are not well developed in The Dying Earth, probably because it's not a real novel. It's a fixup composed a half a dozen discrete short stories.

  • Turjan of Miir - Turjan goes to Embelyon to study under the magician Pandelume, where he meets T'sais, a woman to whom beauty appears ugly.
  • Mazirian the Magician - Mazirian tortures Turjan to learn the secret of imbuing vat-created creatures with intelligence.
  • T'sais - T'sais leaves Embelyon for Earth, where she hopes to learn what beauty is.
  • Liane the Wayfarer - To win the heart of Lith, Liane undertakes a quest to recover her tapestry from Chun the Unavoidable.
  • Ulan Dhor - Ulan Dhor travels to Ampridatvir to find the lost lore of Rogol Domedonfors; in Ampridatvir, a races of green-clad and gray-clad men live in the city, but magic prevents them from seeing those of the other color.
  • Guyal of Sfere - Inquisitive Guyal wishes to know everything, so he sets off to question the Curator of the Museum of Man, in the Land of the Falling Wall beyond the mountains of Fer Aquila.

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