The Dying Earth : The Dying Earth

  • by Jack Vance
  • Narrated by Arthur Morey
  • Series: The Dying Earth
  • 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The stories in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisom and beauty - lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity with their runic amulets and spells. We meet the melancholy deodands, who feed on human flesh and the twk-men, who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous: The evil are charming, the good are dangerous. All are at home in Vance’s lyrically described fantastic landscapes, like Embelyon, where, “The sky [was] a mesh of vast ripples and cross-ripples and these refracted a thousand shafts of colored light, rays which in mid-air wove wondrous laces, rainbow nets, in all the jewel hues....”
The dying Earth itself is otherworldly: “A dark blue sky, an ancient sun.... Nothing of Earth was raw or harsh—the ground, the trees, the rock ledge protruding from the meadow; all these had been worked upon, smoothed, aged, mellowed. The light from the sun, though dim, was rich and invested every object of the land ... with a sense of lore and ancient recollection.” Welcome.

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What the Critics Say

The Dying Earth and its sequels comprise one of the most powerful fantasy/science-fiction concepts in the history of the genre. They are packed with adventure but also with ideas, and the vision of uncounted human civilizations stacked one atop another like layers in a phyllo pastry thrills even as it induces a sense of awe [at] ... the fragility and transience of all things, the nobility of humanity’s struggle against the certainty of an entropic resolution.” (Dean Koontz)
"There are few enough of the writers I loved when I was 13 that I can imagine myself going back to in 20 years from now. Jack Vance I will read forever.” (Neil Gaiman)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Decadent and Hopeful Dying Earth

The jaunty and amoral Liane the Wayfarer has no idea that he's in way over his head (even including the long red feather blinking and winking in his green cap) as "The red sun, drifting across the universe like an old man creeping to his death-bed," begins to set.

If you want to hear funny, scary, and moving stories about desperate questers after knowledge, beauty, or love in a beautiful and terrible far future earth in which the dying sun sheds bloody ruby light on eroded mountains and ruined cities as the decadent remnants of humanity live amid exotic (and often deadly) flora, fauna, magical artifacts, and half-remembered dreams of long past achievements and legendary figures, then you should give The Dying Earth a try.

The capable reading by Arthur Morey evokes the odd mixture of sardonic wit, decadence, hope, and imagination of Vance's book. Morey's voice is dry, but savory, and he pronounces Vance's strange names and unusual words clearly and changes tone appropriately for wizened men, giant demons, guileless or deceitful "girls" (i.e., women), tiny dragonfly riding Twk-men, self-centered rogues, determined wizards, man-eating Deodands, forgotten gods, and more. I would listen to more Dying Earth books narrated by Morey and highly recommend this one.
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- Jefferson "I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics."

if you liked 'The Canterbury Tales' and 'Beowulf'

Other reviewers compared the prose in this book to an epic poem or Middle English verse. I agree. I enjoy dated language and dialogue in writing, but when the story architecture itself is too dated, as it is here, it fails to hold my interest.

I can see this as a point of extreme polarization, so I suggest the following litmus test: if you liked 'The Canterbury Tales' and 'Beowulf', this may be worth a shot, otherwise, save your time and a credit.
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- Ryan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-15-2010
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio