The stories in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisom and beauty - lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity with their runic amulets and spells. We meet the melancholy deodands, who feed on human flesh and the twk-men, who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous: The evil are charming, the good are dangerous. All are at home in Vance’s lyrically described fantastic landscapes, like Embelyon, where, “The sky [was] a mesh of vast ripples and cross-ripples and these refracted a thousand shafts of colored light, rays which in mid-air wove wondrous laces, rainbow nets, in all the jewel hues....”
The dying Earth itself is otherworldly: “A dark blue sky, an ancient sun.... Nothing of Earth was raw or harsh—the ground, the trees, the rock ledge protruding from the meadow; all these had been worked upon, smoothed, aged, mellowed. The light from the sun, though dim, was rich and invested every object of the land ... with a sense of lore and ancient recollection.” Welcome.
©2010 Jack Vance (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“The Dying Earth and its sequels comprise one of the most powerful fantasy/science-fiction concepts in the history of the genre. They are packed with adventure but also with ideas, and the vision of uncounted human civilizations stacked one atop another like layers in a phyllo pastry thrills even as it induces a sense of awe [at] ... the fragility and transience of all things, the nobility of humanity’s struggle against the certainty of an entropic resolution.” (Dean Koontz)
"There are few enough of the writers I loved when I was 13 that I can imagine myself going back to in 20 years from now. Jack Vance I will read forever.” (Neil Gaiman)
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The jaunty and amoral Liane the Wayfarer has no idea that he's in way over his head (even including the long red feather blinking and winking in his green cap) as "The red sun, drifting across the universe like an old man creeping to his death-bed," begins to set.
If you want to hear funny, scary, and moving stories about desperate questers after knowledge, beauty, or love in a beautiful and terrible far future earth in which the dying sun sheds bloody ruby light on eroded mountains and ruined cities as the decadent remnants of humanity live amid exotic (and often deadly) flora, fauna, magical artifacts, and half-remembered dreams of long past achievements and legendary figures, then you should give The Dying Earth a try.
The capable reading by Arthur Morey evokes the odd mixture of sardonic wit, decadence, hope, and imagination of Vance's book. Morey's voice is dry, but savory, and he pronounces Vance's strange names and unusual words clearly and changes tone appropriately for wizened men, giant demons, guileless or deceitful "girls" (i.e., women), tiny dragonfly riding Twk-men, self-centered rogues, determined wizards, man-eating Deodands, forgotten gods, and more. I would listen to more Dying Earth books narrated by Morey and highly recommend this one.
The Dying Earth is a series of slightly interwoven stories, each depicting someone experiencing a great personal challenge. Of course the backdrop to each is a dying planet and lots of sorcery. I don't read a lot of that genre, but this particular book delivered because the stories are well paced and each character is fully developed. The author's prose is very formal but it lends a certain gravity to the story that wouldn't be there if written in a more contemporary style. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes sci-fi/fantasy. It's a book written in 1952 and still mirrors many moral issues we face in the 21st century. Worth the 6 hour listen
I thought this book was a masterpiece...but beware that this book is more akin to epic poetry than to modern epic fantasy. The book requires (and rewards) attention; this not one to listen to while driving. If you liked listening to Homer's Iliad (which I highly recommend), you will love the hypnotic, wide ranging, engrossing fantasy of this book.
Absolutely. Jack Vance's writing isn't like mere fiction, it is like reading a long lost ancient scroll. His style is timeless and also brings up a feeling that it was written eons ago.
Turjan. He is the keeper of all the spells that remain.
The confrontation with Chun the Unavoidable.
Fantasy The Way It Is Supposed To Be!
Vance is an amazing storyteller and if you enjoy well written thoughtful fantasy you will enjoy his writings. Also, if you grew up playing role-playing games, you will recognize many details that were taken directly from Vance's writings.
The level of imagination in the book was a big surprise to me. It's kind of like a cross between Adventure Time and Sin City. With the setting being Adventure Time and the tone, gritty detail and story structure coming from Sin City. I've never read a science fiction or fantasy novel with quite as much creativity and it takes such an "advanced" look at technology that I thought it was written very recently. And, when I say advanced, I mean more along the lines of some of Greg Bear's novels in which genetics and human enhancement reaches a point in which our technology and limitations become almost magical (or in Bear's case of the Eon trilogy - godlike). And, if you look at the era - some 9+ billion years out - then you'd have to assume there were at least *some* highly advanced technology and genetic advancements made, even if the Earth has become a forgotten and dilapidated place.Additionally, the characters and the story arcs almost always go in directions I wouldn't have expected and that made it even more fun. I also really enjoyed the language and the names of this book as well. Some reviewers hated the pseudo ancient "tyme" English but it does a good job of creating the feeling of some distant era in which medieval people live in a post technological world and confuse technology with magic and ritual and give long winded names that aren't really meant to entirely make sense and sort of demonstrates the ignorance of even the people who "know."
When it first mentioned prismatic spray and the number of spell limitations the wizard could commit to memory, I couldn't help but guess the level the wizard would be in d&d. Which, with some cursory wiki work it looks like the creators of d&d borrowed the idea from this book and not vice versa. If you like d&d, that's just a fun twist in the story.
His tone is soft and endearing - like an old wizard reading a book of stories. I think that contrast with the dark subject matter helped give a unique feeling to the overall story and he does a good job voicing the different characters distinctly. My only negative is that the recording or his voice or both was very quiet and I had to crank it up a lot.
This is now one of my all time favorites and I'm going to look for more of his work and this setting. And I agree that it does require your full attention and I had to re-listen to parts throughout the book whenever I found myself lost but definitely worth checking out - especially since it's so short.
I read science fiction and fantasy, but I also like literary fiction, the classics, the occasional mystery/thriller, and non-fiction.
This collection of short stories set in Vance's Dying Earth is old school fantasy and may suffer from the phenomenon of seeming to be derivative by virtue of being the thing that everyone else has been imitating. It's swords and sorcery mixed with hints of lost technology in a far future age when Earth's sun is going out and magic has replaced science, or perhaps they have simply merged to become the same thing. The red sun, the lands and peoples whose names bear no resemblance to that of our world, and the inhuman creatures who might be demons or might be aliens, are evocative and mysterious. It's reminiscent of Moorcock and Gene Wolfe, but distinctively Vance.
This is a world where magicians know one of a hundred known spells, the rest all lost to the ages. There are swordsmen, magicians, scholars, and wandering rogues. The characters are heroic and scoundrelous, innocent and wicked. The dialog is formal and stilted, but deliberately so, in a way that makes each story read like a classic legend. The prose and stories are sure to please any fan of traditional fantasy, and Vance is an above average writer in this genre.
I didn't love this book - hence only 4 stars, though I've enjoyed Vance's stories before and I'll enjoy more. As I said, this book suffers from the fact that most people have probably read so many imitations that The Dying Earth deserves acclaim for its place as a core work in the fantasy genre, but it doesn't have much that most fans haven't seen before. Very enjoyable stories, and hard to imagine that the man who wrote this over 60 years ago is still alive!
Other reviewers compared the prose in this book to an epic poem or Middle English verse. I agree. I enjoy dated language and dialogue in writing, but when the story architecture itself is too dated, as it is here, it fails to hold my interest.
I can see this as a point of extreme polarization, so I suggest the following litmus test: if you liked 'The Canterbury Tales' and 'Beowulf', this may be worth a shot, otherwise, save your time and a credit.
This is an early work by Jack Vance and has a lot less of the optimism shown in his science fiction and later fantasy. It has as its major themes, magic (linked to scientific principles) flawed heroes and the last days of the Earth. There are some very interesting characters and situations. If you want to read where many of the current crop of Fantasy writers got their inspirations, this is an ideal starting point.
Voiced well, the characters stand out and are believable (well, as well as any fantasy characters can be!) and the atmospheres of the various settings are portrayed convincingly.
I collected Jack Vance's books for the past 30 years and was delighted to see them on audible! He is the mastery of magical prose and story telling. Get it now and enjoy!
I finished this book thinking I must be too stupid to get it. The entire book is written in what I think of as Old English. I would compare it to Shakespeare (metaphorically only)- meaning I had to basically translate the sentences into language that made sense to me. I suppose some people like this type of writing. There's even some reviews by Dean Koontz & Neil Gaiman (two of my favorite authors) on here. But in my opinion it took too much effort to understand it; listening to this book felt like an assignment rather than an escape.
If you're considering this for purchase - please, do what I didn't do. Listen to the sample provided, and read the desciption where they have quoted some lines from the book. And just be aware, this is what the ENTIRE book is like.
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