It all started in Sanctuary over twenty years ago. Sanctuary, a seedy, backwater town governed by evil forces, powerful magic, and political intrigue, where survival is an unexpected bonus. Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey blazed a trail to the then new frontier of shared world anthologies, outlining a plan for a city of thieves, assassins, king makers, high priests, wizards, and outcasts, and then they invited in a group of the most exciting SF and fantasy authors around to tell stories about the denizens of this town with names like Lythande (from Marion Zimmer Bradley), Cappan Varra (the last story from Poul Anderson),and One-Thumb ( a rare fantasy creation of Hugo Award winning author Joe Haldeman). And thus Thieves' World was born. Some of these authors made only one visit to the series --others set up shop for the next twelve volumes and it all started here. Contains stories by: Robert Lynn Asprin, Lynn Abbey, Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Brunner, David Drake, Philip Jos Farmer, Joe Haldeman, Janet Morris, Andrew J. Offutt, A.E van Vogt. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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December 17, 2003
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Excerpt from Thieves' World: First Blood by Lynn Abbey
Sentences of Death
It was a measure of the decline in Sanctuary's fortunes that the scriptorium of Master Melilot occupied a prime location fronting on Governor's Walk. The nobleman whose grandfather had caused a fine family mansion to be erected on the site had wasted his substance in gambling, and at last was reduced to eking out his days in genteel drunkenness in an improvised fourth story of wattle and daub, laid out across the original roof, while downstairs Melilot installed his increasingly large staff and went into the book -- as well as the epistle -- business. On hot days the stench from the bindery, where size was boiled and leather embossed, bid fair to match the reek around Shambles Cross.
Not all fortunes, be it understood, were declining. Melilot's was an instance. Ten years earlier he had owned nothing but his clothing and a scribe's compendium; then he worked in the open air, or huddled under some tolerant merchant's awning, and his customers were confined to poor litigants from out of town who needed a written summary of their cases before appearing in the Hall of Justice, or suspicious illiterate purchasers of goods from visiting traders who wanted written guarantees of quality.
On a never-to-be-forgotten day, a foolish man instructed him to write down matter relevant to a lawsuit then in progress, which would assuredly have convinced the judge had it been produced without the opposition being warned. Melilot realized that, and made an extra copy. He was richly rewarded.
Now, as well as carrying on the scribe's profession -- by proxy, mostly -- he specialized in forgery, blackmail, and mistranslation. He was exactly the sort of employer Jarveena of Forgotten Holt had been hoping for when she arrived, particularly since his condition, which might be guessed at from his beardless face and roly-poly fatness, made him indifferent to the age or appearance of his employees.
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The services offered by the scriptorium, and the name of its proprietor, were clearly described in half a dozen languages and three distinct modes of writing on the stone face of the building, a window and a door of which had been knocked into one large entry (at some risk to the stability of the upper floors) so that clients might wait under cover until someone who understood the language they required was available.