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In the company of thieves

Back when I was young and I was trying to read all the fantasy and science fiction I was able to lay my hands on, a holy grail of sorts was the books of the series Thieves’ World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abey. It was one of the earlier shared universes in the genre, and it featured the works of an incredible selection of writers.

The volumes were published in Italy by Fanucci, in a series of hardback volumes that were very expensive if you were a teenager, that featured mismatched covers, sometimes iffy translations, and normally included extra stories by Italian authors that were a little more than iffy.
I think I have two volumes, bought at a discount from a second-hand bookstall by my old high school.

Now, the reason why one should check out the Thieves World anthologies is not just one of historical import – one of the first shared-worlds, developed during the Fantasy Interregnum – but the list of authors featured. In no particular order:

John BrunnerPoul AndersonC.J. CherryhP.J. FarmerJanet MorrisAndrew J. OffuttMarion Zimmer BradleyJoe HaldemanA.E. Van VoghtVonda McIntireDiane DuaneDavid DrakeDiana L. PaxsonRobin Wayne BayleyJody Linn NyeMickey Zucker Reichert

…and I’m sure I am forgetting someone.
All of them at play in a the same setting, all of them contributing characters, details, ideas.

The little I saw, despite all the problems of the Italian edition, was enough to make me yearn for more. The existence of various roleplaying game products connected with the Thieves’ World franchise only contributed to raising the hype. When the series was relaunched in 2002 after a twelve years hiatus I got me two hardbacks, because I was no longer a teenager, and I had a job. They were quite good. My desire grew.

Then, this afternoon, a friend hit me with twenty-one volumes of Thieves’ World goodness, with a laconic

“I’m sure you might like ’em.”

Time to pick up my jaw from the floor, and I hatched a plan. The time has finally come to read the whole of Thieves’ World, or at least as much as I can, in order of publication.

And then I might start publishing a series of volume-by-volume reviews.
It might keep the blog busy for the year 2020.
And it would be a nice way to explore a world of which I have so far caught only a glimpse.

This is going to keep me busy for the best part of winter.

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