I must admit going into this with the mistaken belief that The Dying Earth was a novel. In fact, it is a series of fantasy short stories that are loosely tied together through character and setting. As with most works of this type, I found the contents hit and miss. Some of the early stories struck the right balance of plot elements and character necessary to left the work beyond the page and into the reader's imagination; other stories toward the end of the collection overcrowded the plot with twists and devices reminiscent of pulp fantasy magazines of the 40s and 50s. Vance uses a stilted, formal language so often employed by fantasy writers. It works well here, demonstrating that the author has a knack for its use. I liked The Dying Earth, though I think that my reading Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness at the same time did this collection no favors. It simply highlighted for me what a literary master Le Guin truly is, and my estimation of her went up as a comparative measure.