The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz
by Dan Simmons
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596065413
Date: 30 June 2013 List Price $35.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Dan Simmons has created a fun tale of the Dying Earth as homage to Jack Vance. A master sorcerer has died and his Ultimate Library and Final Compendium of Thaumaturgical Lore From the Grand Motholam and Earlier is sought by every sorcerer, magician, and demon. When Shrue the diabolist learns of Ulfänt Banderoz's demise, he sets out to claim the library. Others join the chase.
Shrue has the redoubtable KirkriK, a powerful daihak combined with mutant sandestin, capable of destroying demons. He also calls upon Dame War Maven Derwe Coreme, an amazon warrior and commander of the Myrmazons. Their journey to the library is fraught with hazards.
When they head for the library, they encounter a fellow magi, Faucelme. He tries to convince Shrue to work together, but Shrue refuses.
Shrue has a key and the means to foil Ulfänt's protective spells. Only a Mauz, talking mutant rodent, remains alive. He served the sorcerer and had charge of the library. He leads them to the sorcerer's body now turned to stone.
Faucelme, accompanied by flying reptiles that eat humans and demons, including the most powerful of all, a Red demon, confront Shrue. They have destroyed Shrue's jinkered rugs (flying carpets) and demand the Ulfänt's Finding Crystal.
Shrue gives them the crystal, and, once they depart, he returns to Ulfänt's body and chisels off the nose. He uses it as a compass to lead him to the library. It's likely to be a long journey, but Shrue is prepared.
Soon the villains pick up the scent and follow. Shrue's ingenuity will please readers and the ending has a nice twist. The diabolist's is a man determined to stick with the Dying Earth until the end, but he doesn't mind having a little feminine companionship along the way. This short novella is a great way to pass a rainy afternoon.