Thursday, September 16, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 39

This is an ongoing series about books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn
edited by Robert Lynn Asprin

Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn (Thieves World II)As I've talked about before, the Thieves' World series of books of Sword and Sorcery short stories was great reading in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The original series ended in the late '80s with an even dozen books, then came back again a few years back with a few new collections and novels.

I was still a kid back in the late '70s, and I was just getting into fantasy literature. When I discovered the Thieves' World books, of which Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn is the second book, I fell in love.

The Thieves' World books were really my first foray into the fantasy sub-genre of Sword and Sorcery, and the tales within the books' pages were quite mysterious, and even dark, for the kid I was then.

The first book was the most mysterious of all, filled with strange sorcerers and hardy warriors in a land and city new and unfamiliar to me. The second book, Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, was a little different. It was still mysterious, but not quite as mysterious, not quite as ethereal. Some of the characters from the first book returned, so this eased some of that eldritch spirit, and it was nice to follow up as if catching up with old friends. But slowly, gradually, the world of this universe was becoming clearer to me, more understandable. I was beginning to know what was going on.

And that is one of the strengths of Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, it takes the familiar and spins it on its head a bit so the reader never knows quite what is going to happen. Also, with this collection, the various stories and characters interacted a little more with one another, giving this fantasy world a reality, a depth that the first book hadn't quite had.

Still, more than thirty years later, there is some great reading to be found within the pages of this book, and in the other books in this series.

Up next: Shadows of Sanctuary

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I just loved these books and found quite a few writers, like Janet Morris, whose work I loved but had not known about before. I thought the concept was great and the stories were so wonderful. Never had a bad reading experience with any of these. I have the last couple of collections that came out way later but haven't read them yet. Read all the first 11/12 collections.