(1984), are left with anything in their hands. In the context of Vance’s oeuvre and his fandom, the reason is interesting. Introspective, sober (relatively speaking), and of a particular flavor, they possess only a few of the qualities of the other Dying Earth stories, but are deeper, darker, and more substantive for it. Most of Vance’s stories read and appreciated for the fast-paced dynamics of plotting, the Rhialto stories offer something similar but a little different—just different enough to be something special.
The stories in Rhialto the Marvelous all feature a group of eccentric magicians living in the last days of the sun. Vance capitalizing on the concept as only Vance can, their petty and esoteric interests are presented in comedic yet human fashion, and are integral to their interpersonal differences. Creaky, old men having wars of words (and occasionally fists) over magical baubles and tomes is great fun—high flying verbiage contrasted by childish interests.