Jack Vance, Cugel’s Saga (1983)

I’m about 2/3 of the way through Cugel’s Saga myself; rarely have I read prose fun and whimsical as Vance’s Cugel stories; the only other work I can really compare it to, at least in terms of story-telling and humor, is Voltaire’s Candide. I’ve been waiting for over a book and a half for someone to sit down next to Cugel in a tavern and ask him what he thinks of the King of the Bulgars.

One of the things I like about Vance over so many of the more well known and contemporarily popular “humorous” fantasy writers is that his comedy is, while present in every line, understated and subtle rather than overbearing and twee.

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Jack Vance, Cugels saga [Cugel’s Saga] (1986 – Delta Science Fiction [187])

På Cugels tid har solen åldrats till en röd, nyckfull, nästan levande gestalt. Den är trött, blinkar till ibland och bidrar till en allmän undergångsstämning. Jordens befolkning har även den förändrats med tiden, eller snarare sjunkit ner i en mångfacetterad brokig medeltidsartad värld där vetenskapen ersatts av magi. I denna agrara fantasivärld traskar Cugel runt, ständigt på jakt efter nya pengar och förlustelser. Genom ett (välförtjänt?) spratt av den skrattande trollkarlen Iucounu har Cugel medelst demon transporterats bort från hans hem i Almeri till fjärran stränder och okänt land. Boken är sagan om hans resa hem, och hans önskan att hämnas oförrätten.

Och det är en mustig saga, skriven av en Jack Vance i högform. Det är sprittande galet, stundtals genialt fantasifullt – och framförallt underhållande. Cugel är en blandning av skälmsk småfifflare och gentleman, en sol-och-vårare med…

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3 responses to “Jack Vance, Cugel’s Saga (1983)

  1. Hell yeah. You have to pay a lot more attention to Vance to get the jokes, but it’s worth it. A lot of it is slow burn stuff where you wonder what Cugel is up to for two or three pages, rather than a series of one liners.

    • It is like the complete opposite of the three paragraphs of Terry Prachett I made it through before giving up.

      There are no jokes or punchlines, but it maintains a very understated but constant level of hilarity without going ‘twee’.

    • I’m up to the part where Cugel has stolen the (now flying) ship; that you KNOW that the bard has asked something really lurid and salacious about the mime girls even though its nature is barely hinted at is a perfect example of Vance’s mastery of humor.

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