The Dying Earth

{4.5/5} “A dim place, ancient beyond knowledge. Once it was a tall world of cloudy mountains and bright rivers, and the sun was a white blazing ball. Ages of rain and wind have beaten and rounded the granite, and the sun is feeble and red. The continents have sunk and risen. A million cities have lifted towers, have fallen to dust. In place of the old peoples a few thousand strange souls live. There is evil on Earth, evil distilled by time.”

Pandelume of Embelyon is a great magician — he can even create a human in a vat. He created the beautiful woman T’sais but he made a mistake and she is full of rage. When T’sais meets her twin, T’sain, T’sais renounces her violent ways and decides to seek beauty and love — she will go to Earth.

T’sain was created by the magician Turjan, who learned how to give a human body intelligence from Pandelume. But now Turjan has been captured by an enemy magician, Mazirian. T’sain will attempt to rescue Turjan but it is very dangerous and she must be extremely careful.

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance was published in 1950.

Although it’s sometimes labelled a novel, this is a collection of short stories — each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view. Sometimes characters from one chapter show up in another, but each chapter tells its own story. The main character is typically on a quest for magic or knowledge.

Since it takes place in the far future when human civilization has mostly crumbled but the characters use magic, it could be called science fantasy.

I liked it a lot — each chapter had a satisfying conclusion. There’s some talk about how the world is soon coming to an end, but it’s not depressing at all — there’s an underlying sense of humour. It’s a short book, and I’m finding the sequel enticing.

The style is easy to read — once in a while there’s a word you’ll want to look up.

This is the first book of Vance’s I’ve read — I read his story “The Moon Moth” not too long ago.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012 at 8:28 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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