The latest addition to Vance's ""Dying Earth"" series (most recently Cugel's Saga, 1983) comprises two short stories and one long: unrelated adventures in the career of the rather faceless title character Rhialto--one of the magicians of the 21st Aeon who have formed an association to protect their interests. In the first story, the powerful witch Murthe threatens to turn the haughty magicians into women--a situation fraught with comic possibilities which Vance fails to exploit. In the long piece, the magician Hache-Moncour conceives a stratagem to destroy the other magicians and install himself as the supreme power; the plot, however, meanders and sags. And the third story features the magician Morreion, trapped at the edge of the universe: Rhialto and the others undertake to rescue him, hoping also to acquire magical IOUN stones, of which only Morreion knows the source. Plenty of ideas, then, but they're hardly developed here--in a surprisingly absent-minded and uneasy performance, with only a few glimpses of the usual Vance style and wit.