Showing posts with label Thieves World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thieves World. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Thieves World Short Story Review - Sentences of Death By John Brunner

Title: Sentences of Death
Author: John Brunner
Year: 1978
Pages: 23
Rating: ★★★★

Ah, John Brunner. Between 1970 and 1975, Brummer penned 9 novels. Some of the finest works of SF.  In 1978, his short fiction work, Sentences of Death was the first short story of the first book in the Thieves World collection. And what an open piece it is. 

We meet Sanctuary's gritty streets and self-made fortunes through the eyes of scribe Melilot and his young protege Jarveena. Using forgery, blackmail, and mistranslation, Melilot fits right into Thieves World with his stable of scribes for hire. Through Melilot's exploits, the reader is introduced to what makes Sanctuary tick and what those ticks do to the people in the city, young, old, and in the middle. The children are the core of commerce in Sanctuary, much of which is exactly what one with think of trade in children. Jarveena is dragged right along with her master's plots. 

It's grim. 

Jarveena, Melilot's latest scribe has business and vengeance on the mind. A chance encounter pits her against the captain of the guard, Aye-Gophlan and his men who took everything from her. Jarveena craves vengeance and boy, does it work. As if having the criminal mastermind of Melilot at her back wasn't enough, she encounters the mage Enas Yorl who simply seals the deal for her.  

The story revolves around a magic scroll that none can read. This little monkey paw of a device winds a tortured path through the story, running from a street urchin scribe all the way to the Prince of the city. 

As per the typical fare for Thieves World, winning isn't always a good option as Jarveena and Enas Yorl discover. Sentences of Death is artfully crafted and while grim, is an excellent primer for Thieves World. 

In the review of these stories, I'd like to link them back to classic D&D. While scribes don't exactly fit as a class of D&D character, the function could be fulfilled by Magic-Users, Clerics, and of course, Thieves. Enas Yorl is accursed, which is an interesting take on a magic-user. Some of the other magic in the story hints at Dimension Door and Polymorph (large writ) while Aye-Gophlan's behavior and beliefs tend to model closely to poor characters just trying to get a leg up while being deluded as to their station in the story. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Book Review - Sanctuary by Lynn Abbey

Title: Sanctuary
Author: Lynn Abbey
Year: 2003
Pages: 480 pages
Print Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Audible Rating: N/A 

Ah, the little disappointments of eBooks and companies reselling products. I had purchased this book with the expectation that it was an Omnibus Edition of The Thieves World collection sold in the 80s. It is not and I was massively confused as I expected to settle in with a tried and true collection of short stores set in the city of Sanctuary. 

Adding to my confusion, this novel is marketed as having three books: Return To The City That Would Not Die!, Return To Thieves' World! and Return To Sanctuary!. All with exclamation points. Structurally, the novel is a single book and it's not really clear if this was ever serialized or three different books. G-- damn Marketroids screwing a good thing up. 

This book, which shares the title of the 1982 Omnibus edition is a newer novel by Lynn Abbey. 
In this story, we follow the adventures of Molin Torchholder as he literally passes the torch to a new generation of characters. This treatment was excellently handled as the new generation of characters are not simply derivative of old characters. They are couched in the term of the old Thieves World characters without actually being those people in a renewed form. They are markedly different even if they aspire to be as famous as the prior generation of anti-heroes. 

You would think that Molin would be a bad character to lead the next generation of scum in the city of Sanctuary. And to an extent that would be correct. However, as a survivor and an archpriest to the deposed and hidden god, Vashanka it made a lot of sense. He survives by pigheaded stubbornness, who else could live this long? 

The book has many callbacks to the original series, answering many questions while leaving some unanswered. While I was supremely disappointed that this was not the omnibus edition I was looking for, I found it an excellent read. I believe that this novel could be an excellent launching point if one as never read a Thieves World book before, as the callbacks and setting both come across as epic worldbuilding, invoking age and mystery for the reader.  

If you prefer a physical copies, check out Sanctuary by Lynn Abbey on Abebooks. This link will take you to a search page with different offerings at prices you can afford. 

I will be searching for those original omnibus editions, so stay tuned for more from Sanctuary and Thieves World.