First Blood (Thieves' World Series)

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Thieves' World: First Blood

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Contains all of the stories of the first two Thieves' World anthologies (Thieves' World and Tales of the Vulgar Unicorn), with additional material.

Return to the Olden Days of Sanctuary!

Sanctuary, a seedy, backwater town governed by evil forces, powerful magic, and political intrigue

See how Thieves' World all began!

Classic stories by:

Robert Lynn Asprin
Lynn Abbey
Poul Anderson
Marion Zimmer Bradley
John Brunner
David Drake
Philip Jose Farmer
Joe Haldeman
Janet Morris
Andrew J. Offutt
A. E.van Vogt

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Thieves’ World was a signal event in fantasy history ... hailed by fans and other professionals alike for their unique approach to the storyteller’s craft and its rich legacy of first-rate story.” – Raymond E. Feist, New York Times bestselling author
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312874889
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Series: Thieves' World Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 771,179
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Editor Lynn Abbey is the co-creator of Thieves' World (with Robert Lynn Asprin). She is the author of Sanctuary, an epic novel of Thieves' World, and lives in Leesberg, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Thieves' World: First Blood


Tor Books

ISBN: 9780312874889

Sentences of Death
John Brunner
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 theopposition 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.
* * *
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.
Jarveena read and wrote her native tongue well: Yenized. That was why Melilot had agreed to hire her. No competing service in Sanctuary could offer so many languages now. But two months might go by--indeed, they just had done so--without a single customer's asking for a translation into or from Yenized, which made her pretty much of a status symbol. She was industriously struggling with Rankene, the courtly version of the common dialect, because merchants liked to let it be thought their goods were respectable enough for sale to the nobility even if they had come ashore by night from Scavengers' Island, and she was making good headway with the quotidian street-talk in which the poorer clients wanted depositions of evidence or contracts of sale made out. Nonetheless she was still obliged to take on menial tasks to fill her time.
It was noon, and another such task was due.
Plainly, it was of little use relying on inscriptions to reach those who were most in need of a scribe's assistance; accordingly Melilot maintained a squad of small boys with peculiarly sweet and piercing voices, who paraded up and down the nearby streets advertising his service by shouting,
wheedling, and sometimes begging. It was a tiring occupation, and the children frequently grew hoarse. Thrice a day, therefore, someone was commanded to deliver them a nourishing snack of bread and cheese and a drink made of honey, water, a little wine or strong ale, and assorted spices. Since her engagement, Jarveena had been least often involved in other duties when the time for this one arrived. Hence she was on the street, distributing Melilot's bounty, when an officer whom she knew by name and sight turned up, acting in a most peculiar manner. He was Captain Aye-Gophlan, from the guard post at the corner of the Processional.
He scarcely noticed her as he went by, but that was less than surprising. She looked very much like a boy herself--more so, if anything, than the chubby-cheeked blond urchin she was issuing rations to. When Melilot took her on she had been in rags, and he had insisted on buying her new clothes of which, inevitably, the price would be docked from her minuscule commission on the work she did. She didn't care. She only insisted in turn that she be allowed to choose her garb: a short-sleeved leather jerkin cross-laced up the front; breeches to midcalf; boots to tuck the breeches into; a baldric on which to hang her scribe's compendium with its reed-pens and ink-block and water-pot and sharpening knife and rolls of rough reed-paper; and a cloak to double as covering at night. She had a silver pin for it--her only treasure.
Melilot had laughed, thinking he understood. He owned a pretty girl a year shy of the fifteen Jarveena admitted to, who customarily boxed the ears of his boy apprentices when they waylaid her in a dark passageway to steal a kiss, and that was unusual enough to demand explanation.
But that had nothing to do with it. No more did the fact that with her tanned skin, thin build, close-cropped black hair, and many visible scars, she scarcely resembled a girl regardless of her costume. There were plenty of ruffians--some of noble blood--who were totally indifferent to the sex of the youngsters they raped.
Besides, to Jarveena such experiences were survivable; had they not been, she would not have reached Sanctuary. So she no longer feared them.
But they made her deeply--bitterly--angry. And someday one who deserved her anger more than any was going to pay for at least one of his countless crimes. She had sworn so...but she had been only nine then, and with the passage of time the chance of vengeance grew more and more remote. Now she scarcely believed in it. Sometimes she dreamed of doing to another what had been done to her, and woke moaning with shame, and she could not explain why to the other apprentice scribes sharing the dormitory that once had been the bedroom of the noble who now snored and vomited and groaned and snored under a shelter fit rather for hogs than humans the wrong side of his magnificently painted ceiling.
She regretted that. She liked most of her companions; some were from respectable families, for there were no schools here apart from temple schools whose priests had the bad habit of stuffing children's heads with myth and legend as though they were to live in a world of make-believe instead of fending for themselves. Without learning to read and write at least their own language they would be at risk of cheating by every smart operator in the city. But how could she befriend those who had led soft, secure lives, who at the advanced age of fifteen or sixteen had never yet had to scrape a living from gutters and garbage piles?
* * *
Captain Aye-Gophlan was in mufti. Or thought he was. He was by no means so rich as to be able to afford clothing apart from his uniforms, of which it was compulsory for the guards to own several--this one for the emperor's birthday, that one for the feast of the regiment's patron deity, another for day-watch duty, yet another for night-watch duty, another for funeral drill.... The common soldiers were luckier. If they failed in their attire, the officers were blamed for stinginess. But how long was it since there had been enough caravans through here for the guard to keep up the finery required of them out of bribes? Times indeed were hard when the best disguise an officer on private business could contrive was a plum-blue overcloak with a hole in it exactly where his crotch armor could glint through.
Seeing him, Jarveena thought suddenly about justice. Or more nearly, about getting even. Perhaps there was no longer any hope of bringing to account the villain who had killed her parents and sacked their estate, enslaved the able-bodied, turned loose his half-mad troops on children to glut the lust of their loins amid the smoke and crashing of beams as the village its inhabitants called Holt vanished from the stage of history.
But there were other things to do with her life. Hastily she snatched back the cup she had already allowed to linger too long in the grasp of this, luckily the last of Melilot's publicity boys. She cut short an attempt at complaint with a scowl which drew her forehead skin down just far enough to reveal a scar normally covered by her forelock.
That was a resource she customarily reserved until all else failed. It had its desired effect; the boy gulped and surrendered the cup and went back to work, pausing only to urinate against the wall.
Copyright 2003 by Robert Lynn Asprin, Lynn Abbey, and Thieves' World 2000


Excerpted from Thieves' World: First Blood by Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Editor's Note 17
Introduction 19
Sentences of Death 31
The Face of Chaos 57
The Gate of the Flying Knives 79
Shadowspawn 113
The Price of Doing Business 139
Blood Brothers 155
Myrtis 173
The Secret of the Blue Star 193
The Making of Thieves' World 211
Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn 221
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2011

    One of the best fantasy series

    I think this anthology series is now out of print, so I was very happy to find it digitized for the Nook. THIEVE'S WORLD is one of the best fantasy series of the genre. I have read, re-read, and read again the series many times. I hope they digitize the other ten or so novels as well. So many great authors all contributing to a cohesive anthology about a dying city and the characters who survive there. FIVE STARS

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012


    I was so estatic to see it digitized! I will read again fir the uptenth time

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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    One of the best anthologies

    Amazing anthology, and a fairly good version of it. There are some typographical errors, but overall they did a great job on it.

    I'm delighted to find it, as my original paper books have worn to nothing.

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