Thieves’ World (1978-)

Mind your coin purses, I’m doing Thieves’ World all week. Thieves’ World began as, and largely remained, a series of anthologies and novels. They differ from most fantasy of the time and since in that they are by multiple writers working in a shared world under the guidance of creators and editors Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey.

The world consists mostly of Sanctuary, a frontier city recently conquered by the Ranken Empire, then later conquered again by the Beysibs. The stories follow a large cast of characters, mostly unpleasant ones, as they live, love, plot and pilfer their way through their seedy existences.
Unlike a lot of fantasy worlds, the way the multiple authors weaves their stories and characters in and out of each other’s work, lets the city of Sanctuary breathe in a unique way. After Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar, Sanctuary’s gritty vibe of an occupied city could probably be my favorite literary fantasy setting (maybe because it seems like a bit of a Lankhmar knock-off).

Except, I’ve not really read the books. Though I own a couple of the anthologies, I know Thieves’ World primarily from the comics and the roleplaying supplements you’ll see over the next couple days. One surprising side effect of that? I have no idea who those characters in green are, the two blonde men and the dark haired woman. They appear on nearly every effing Thieves’ World cover, but I’ve no clue why, because when I think Thieves’ World, I think Tempus and Jubal and Hanse Shadowspawn and Illyria and Enas Yorl and Hakiem and a dozen other actual major characters. These ain’t them. So if you know, PLEASE TELL ME.

I don’t love the depictions on the other covers, either. They feel too generic fantasy for me, for reasons that will become clear tomorrow…

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