The Eyes of the Overworld
is a fantasy fixup
by Jack Vance
published in 1966, the second in the Dying Earth series
. It features a series of linked stories detailing the travails of the self-proclaimed Cugel the Clever. In the Vance Integral Edition
the book is retitled Cugel the Clever
Cugel is easily persuaded by the merchant Fianosther to attempt the burglary of the manse of Iucounu the Laughing Magician. Trapped and caught, he agrees that in exchange for his freedom he will undertake the recovery of a small hemisphere of violet glass, an Eye of the Overworld, to match one already in the wizard's possession. A small sentient alien entity of barbs and hooks, named Firx, is attached to his liver to encourage his "unremitting loyalty, zeal and singleness of purpose," and Iucounu uses a spell to transport Cugel via flying demon to the remote Land of Cutz.
There, Cugel finds two villages, one occupied by wearers of the violet lenses, the other by peasants who work on behalf of the lens-wearers, in hopes of being promoted to their ranks. The lenses cause their wearers to see, not their squalid surroundings, but the Overworld, a vastly superior version of reality where a hut is a palace, gruel is a magnificent feast, etc. — "seeing the world through rose-colored glasses" on a grand scale. Cugel gains an Eye by trickery, and escapes from Cutz. He then undertakes an arduous trek back to Iucounu, cursing the magician the entire way; this forms... Read More