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. Sorcerors who read the books of ancient times held great power, and fearsome monsters created in ages long forgotten stalked the land. In this world of mystery and danger, the adventurer known as Cugel the Clever was forced to undertake a quest for Iucounu the Laughing Magician – a quest that was to take him to lands stranger than any he had dreamed of, and pit his wits and his sword against powers from beyond time itself. Previously published as The Eyes of the Overworld, this is the second of a quartet of titles sharing the same far-future setting first introduced in The Dying Earth Contents: The Overworld, Cil, The Mountains of Magnatz, The Sorcerer Pharesm, The Pilgrims, The Cave in the Forest, The Manse of Iucounu. All Jack Vance titles in the SFGateway use the author’s preferred texts, as restored for the Vance Integral Edition (VIE), an extensive project masterminded by an international online community of Vance’s admirers. In general, we also use the VIE titles, and have adopted the arrangement of short story collections to eliminate overlaps.
The fantastic quests and adventures of Cugel: the greatest rogue in the realms of fantasy. For the second time, Cugel the Clever has been carried north over the Ocean of Sighs and dumped half a world away from home, on Shanglestone Strand. Swearing revenge on the Laughing Magician, Cugel sets off through mud pits and bars, through villages, manor houses and across the seas. At last, after many an extraordinary adventure, he comes once more to the land of Almery and the chance to exact the vengeance he craves . . .
Jack Vance has long been one of the most influential, admired and imitated writers in science fiction and fantasy literature, the award-winning author of such widely acclaimed works as The Dying Earth, the Lyonesse trilogy, the adventures of Cugel the Clever, the Demon Princes series, and many other masterful tales set among the stars, in exotic fantasy realms or on our own Earth. For much of his career, Vance has also been one of the field’s most private writers, an author who preferred to let his work speak for him. Now, at last, to coincide with the release of the tribute anthology Songs of the Dying Earth, Jack gives us this intimate and fascinating glimpse into his rich and eventful life, and a valuable insight into how he went about practicing his craft. For fans of the Grand Master’s work, these memoirs are something to be treasured.