Dying Earth (novel)

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A classic series of Low Fantasy novels by Jack Vance. Several other authors have written novels in the setting, which has become something of a Shared Universe. It is considered one of the seminal works of fantasy and has had a huge influence on the genre.

Welcome to Earth, a few million years in the future. Magic is back, mostly displacing science, and it is both After the End and Just Before the End: Civilization has pretty much collapsed, and the Sun is close to going out. Earth's remaining inhabitants are generally aware of this but have no means to escape their increasingly hot and barren Crapsack World. Those that haven't become religious zealots are largely nihilistic fatalists, engaging in what debauchery they can in the time left.

The original four books consist of short stories about different characters (most notably Turjan of Miir and Rhialto the Marvellous), interspersed with the longer saga of Cugel the Clever. Thief, charlatan, con man, and whatever else he needs to be to get the most benefit with the least work, Cugel teeters on the border between Anti-Hero and Villain Protagonist. When he botches robbing the mansion of Iucounu the Laughing Magician, the wizard teleports him across the world with a command to bring back an artifact he wants... and includes a small demon attached to his liver and equipped with various sharp implements to encourage his compliance. The series relates his various adventures attempting to return and revenge himself on Iucounu, while conning as many people as possible out of their valuables and/or virginity along the way.

Tropes used in Dying Earth (novel) include: