Tuesday, 27 February 2001

Jack Vance: Rhialto the Marvellous (1984)

Edition: Gollancz, 2000
Review number: 768
This part of the Tales of the Dying Earth consists of three stories about a group of sorcerers, concentrating on one of their number, who calls himself "Rhialto the Marvellous". As his name indicates, he is not particularly modest, but he is intelligent and devious. Two of the stories are quite short; the middle one, about his rivalry with another magician who frames him for a variety of crimes and practical jokes on his colleagues, dominates the book.

The third story is perhaps the most interesting. In this, the magicians go in search of the sorceror Morrein, once of their number but now vanished. They track him down to the last planet left at the very end of the universe, and it is Vance's vision of the end which is the most compelling aspect of the book.

Rhialto's intelligence makes him a more sympathetic hero than
Cugel, but Cugel's Saga remains the most entertaining of the series.

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