The Compleat Dying Earth, by Jack Vance Rothdas book review RSS
5.0 Stars

A compilation of clever and hilarious short fantasy stories. It's a bit like taking Dungeons and Dragons, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Oscar Wilde, and then mixing them all together. The typical story takes the protagonist to a new kingdom or village of the Dying Earth where they deal with some combination of ancient magics, ancient technology, venal rogues, venal mages, venal rulers, venal workers, and various hybrid monsters and magical items and sticky situations. The protagonist varies from story to story, but they are almost always a morally flexible trickster-adept-criminal-rhetorician-epicurean, and generally a vain-glorious fool as well.

The book is great fun, and I laughed out loud at several of the endings. It is not quite Jeeves level of comedy, but it can come close. Vance has an amazing facility for invention, and his language and creations and plotting are consistently delightful. Despite appearing over 60 years ago, the stories are still fresh and full of life. The sexual politics are perhaps not so great, but otherwise it has aged wonderfully.