Mostly satisfying new stories billed as a revival of a 1980s “shared world” fantasy series, edited by the series’ cofounder. Abbey was married to fantasy writer Robert Asprin when the two dreamed up Thieves’ World at a 1978 science-fiction convention. The dozen anthologies and two novels they created over the next decade took place in a lawless, cynical, pun-filled, sometimes satiric and always-atmospheric pseudo-medieval fantasy realm. Now, not quite two decades after the last in the series, Abbey has resuscitated it with a new novel (Sanctuary, 2002, not reviewed) and this collection. The majority of stories here offer ironic meditations on the difference that several years has made. “Introduction,” one of Abbey's two entries, is too heavy with backstory, as she follows the cunning manipulations of a stonemason who is not only infused with the memories of a sorcerer, but also haunted by a god. “Sanctuary never really changes, but even here, life goes on,” laments Latilla, an innkeeper’s daughter who ends up watching the liberation of a woman who has been trapped in a for crystal 30 years in Diana L. Paxon's “The Prisoner in the Jewel.” A cloyingly cute puppy pesters aging thief Jake the Rat in “One to Go” by Raymond E. Fiest, and a mispronounced magic word causes havoc among characters old and new in Andrew Offutt’s “Role Model,” while an orphan thief with a peculiar linguistic talent finds love among a coven of witches in Mickey Zucker Reichert’s “Home is Where the Hate Is.”
Amusingly “low” fantasy adventure, varied enough to appeal to those who have had their fill of Tolkien and want funnier, nastier stuff.