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The Eyes of the Overworld
The Eyes of the Overworld
Author: Jack Vance
In the dim far future of Earth, when the sun had shrunk to a small red disk in the dark sky and the race of man lived in isolated cities that echoed with the vastness of the world's history, science, myth and magic had become one.
ISBN: 322343
Publication Date: 1966
Pages: 189
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Ace Books
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 1
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Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance was a typical classic SF and fantasy treat for me - fast reading, engaging and quick. Plus, it was a nice look at some of roots of the trops of the fantasy genre and roleplaying games. Besides, where else can you find the origin and composition of the grue?

What's it about? Well, I suspect Wikipedia can do a better job of summarizing than I, but the gist of it is one Cugel the Clever (also the greedy, treacherous, cowardly, lecherous, lazy, etc., etc.) is sent on a little errand by Iuconnu the Laughing Magician after being caught trying to burgle Iuconnu's home. This small errand is a simple quest - with a epic return home.

Along the way, Cugel cons, is conned, tries to take advantage of people and is taken advantage of more often. He is living proof that the best way to con someone is appeal to that larceny and greed in their hearts. "The Mountains of Magnatz" is a wonderful example of this.

Did I like it? Yes, I did. I'm fond of characters like Cugel - he seems a spiritual descendant of the Flashman at the least. Unlike Flashman though, Cugel in this volume remains an inveterate rotter. And it was pretty funny to see how he kept getting taken advantage of by his intended victims. I wasn't thrilled with the rococo language though - it reminded me of The Worm Ourobouros by Eric Rücker Eddison and not in a good way. But I'll forgive it because it did not take itself as seriously as The Worm Ourobouros does.

Likes: A literally anti-heroic protagonist; Humor; Seeing origins of tropes in the fantasy genre; Imaginative world building; Amusing cons.

Dislikes: Rococo language; Dialogue - stiff and people don't talk like that.

Suggested for: Fantasy fans, classic fantasy fans.