Friday, 23 February 2001

Jack Vance: Cugel's Saga (1983)

Edition: Gollancz, 2000
Review number: 764

The end of Eyes of the Overworld saw Cugel, tricked once more by magician Iuconnu, returned to the spot on the other side of the world from which he had spent virtually the whole of that novel travelling. Cugel's Saga takes up the story where the earlier tale ands, and he spends this novel making exactly the same journey, from Shanglestone Strand to Pergolo, for the same reason: to gain his revenge on Iuconnu.

Thus, Cugel's Saga has basically the same plot as Eyes of the Overworld, even if the episodes along the journey are different. There are other changes which are more important, and which make Cugel's Saga the most accessible and satisfying of Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth.

The whimsicality of the earlier tales rarely becomes humorous. In The Dying Earth, the story is too diffuse, while the character of Cugel portrayed in Eyes of the Overworld is too unpleasant. Now, Cugel is shown in a mellower light, and humour is more apparent. This instantly makes Cugel's Saga more enjoyable.

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