Cugel the Clever, his mind bent on revenge against Iouconnou, throws in with Mumber Sull, a deposed ruler seeking the legendary wizard Simbilis for help against the minions of Slaye. Will either find what he is looking for?
A Dying Earth tale set after the events of Eyes of the Overworld, Shea wrote the continuation of Cugel's adventure before Jack Vance decided to tell the tale himself. Is Shea a worthy successor to Vance? Yes, but I preferred Vance's ending to Cugel's tale. Shea does a good job of capturing Vance's style, complete with humor and overly formal dialogue. Cugel and Mumber go up against cannibals, a crooked bridge keeper, and have a short stint as exorcists, among other things, en route to their goals.
Aside from Michael Shea not being Jack Vance, the main gripe I had with the story is that Cugel was in the background for a great portion of the proceedings, taking a backseat to Polderbag, Sull, and others. Cugel's character was also a little too nice. The ending also kind of sucked and made me very glad Vance decided to write Cugel's Saga a few years later.
Quest for Simbilis is still an enjoyable read, despite these gripes. Where else would you see a society so opposed to carnality that the people use a bellows to reproduce?
Not a bad read for Michael Shea and Jack Vance fans. Just be thankful Vance decided to pick up where he left off after Eyes of the Overworld.