The Guiding Nose Of Ulfänt Banderôz by Dan Simmons (book review)

April 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘The Guiding Nose Of Ulfänt Banderôz’ by Dan Simmons has previously been published as part of the anthology ‘Songs Of The Dying Earth’, a collection of pastiches of and homages to Jack Vance. Now Subterranean Press released the novella as a fine looking hardback. But before we look at the ‘hardware’ further, let us examine what the story is about.


The Dying Earth is our world in the far future, in a time when the sun no longer shines yellow but is a giant red ball in the sky. Magic is not uncommon and demons and mutants roam the lands. The narrative takes place at a crucial moment in the history of the Dying Earth. All signs and portents indicate that the long awaited death of the planet is very near. Most magicians go into seclusion to avoid uprisings by the normal folk. Shrue the diabolist is one of them. But when he learns that the ancient magus, Ulfänt Banderôz, guardian of the legendary Ultimate Library and Final Compendium of Thaumaturgical Lore from the Grand Motholam and Earlier, has died, he gathers some servants and a group of Amazon warriors to go on a journey to claim said library for himself.

Naturally, he is not the only one who is after this great prize and then there are all the natural and magical entities that make a long journey across the Dying Earth very dangerous indeed. Will Shrue the diabolist make it to the Ultimate Library and survive all the traps left by Ulfänt Banderôz, only guided by the severed nose of the deceased magician?

‘The Guiding Nose Of Ulfänt Banderôz’ is a very entertaining novella, filled with all the marvels, bizarre happenings and assorted miraculous creatures one has come to expect from a tale of the Dying Earth. Dan Simmons obviously appreciates the work of Jack Vance and has written a really good homage. The plot is well-rounded and comes to a satisfying conclusion. The only important character, Shrue the diabolist, is as elaborate as it can be in a novella. Dan Simmons hits the tone of Jack Vance’s ‘Dying Earth’ quite perfectly. My only complaint is the novella’s shortness.

The book itself gives a great first impression with an awesome looking dust cover and some great interior illustrations by Tom Kidd. I would love to read more and longer tales from the Dying Earth by Mr. Simmons, and it would definitely not hurt if they came outfitted like this. Suited for all fans of ‘The Dying Earth’ and tales of high fantasy with a touch of humour.

Sven Scheurer

April 2015

(pub: Subterranean Press, 2013. 117 page deluxe hardback. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-541-3)

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Scifi

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