Saturday, 17 February 2001

Jack Vance: The Eyes of the Overworld

Edition: Gollancz, 2000
Review number: 758

Although The Eyes of the Overworld is considered to be set in the same background as The Dying Earth, it is quite different from Vance's debut. To start with, it is a proper novel, with one plot running all the way through it. This means that there is less space for background, as the central character becomes more important.

The plot of The Eyes of the Overworld is simple. Cugel attempts to rob the mansion of magician Iuconnu, only to be trapped inside until the absent owner returns. As punishment, he is sent on a quest to the ends of the earth to retrieve the lenses of the title which show the spiritual world.

As a central character, Cugel is unsympathetic, being unscrupulous, vain and charmless. Although this is commendably unusual, it does make the novel difficult to get into and not terribly rewarding to read.

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