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Set in the imaginary French province of Poictesme during the first half of the 13th century, FIGURES OF EARTH follows the earthly career of Dom Manuel the the swineherd, who rises to power by playing on others' expectations - his motto Mundus Vult Decipi, meaning "the world wishes to be deceived."
James Branch Cabell (1897-1958)
James Branch Cabell was born in Richmond, Virginia, to an affluent and well-connected family. He was a well-regarded American fantasy author who mostly wrote mannered and witty fantasies set in a "land of fable" Europe, the largest body of which he assimilated as episodes in the Biography of the Life of Manuel. Although now largely forgotten by the general public, his work was remarkably influential on later authors of fantasy fiction. James Blish was a fan of Cabell's works, and for a time edited Kalki, the journal of the Cabell Society. Robert A. Heinlein was greatly inspired by Cabell's boldness, and originally described his famous book Stranger in a Strange Land as "a Cabellesque satire."