In the dim far future of Earth, when the sun had shrunk to a small red disk in the dark sky and the race of man lived in isolated cities that echoed with the vastness of the world's history, science, myth and magic had become one. Sorcerors who read the books of ancient times held great power, and fearsome monsters created in ages long forgotten stalked the land.
In this world of mystery and danger, the adventurer known as Cugel the Clever was forced to undertake a quest for Iucounu the Laughing Magician – a quest that was to take him to lands stranger than any he had dreamed of, and pit his wits and his sword against powers from beyond time itself.
John Holbrook "Jack" Vance (1916–2013) was an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction writer. Though most of his work has been published as by Jack Vance, he also wrote 11 mystery novels using his full name John Holbrook Vance, three under the pseudonym Ellery Queen, and once each using the pseudonyms Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.
Vance won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and he was a Guest of Honor at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made him its 14th Grand Master in 1997 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001, its sixth class of two deceased and two living writers.