Thieves' World is a shared world fantasy series created by Robert Lynn Asprin in 1978. The original series comprised twelve anthologies, including stories by such science fiction authors as Poul Anderson, John Brunner, Andrew J. Offutt, C. J. Cherryh, Janet Morris, Chris Morris. The Morrises introduced the Sacred Band of Stepsons in Thieves' World and spun off a series of novels about them and their ancient cavalry commander, Tempus. The first three novels in The Sacred Band of Stepsons saga were authorized Thieves World novels. Marion Zimmer Bradley was an early contributor, but spun off her main character in the novel Lythande (1986) and did not return for later volumes. The series went on hiatus after the twelfth anthology. In addition to the official anthologies, several authors published novels set in the milieu of Thieves World and published short stories in a variety of places.
Thieves' World is set in the city of Sanctuary, located at the edge of the Rankan Empire. The city was depicted as a place where many were downtrodden and where the invading Rankan gods and the Ilsigi gods they had ousted begin a struggle for primacy. As the series continued, additional invasions occurred and the city was taken over by the snake-worshipping Beysib as the Rankan empire collapsed. Over time, a number of the characters in the series are revealed either to be the offspring of or otherwise blessed by various figures in the pantheons of the competing cultures, and discover or develop various powers as the series progresses. A unifying framework for the second half of the series implied that the city of Sanctuary was about to become the kernel of a new empire with a new and syncretic pantheon; however, the series went on hiatus before this came to fruition.
In 2002, Lynn Abbey, who co-edited several of the original anthologies, revitalized the series with the novel Sanctuary. It was followed by the anthologies Turning Points and Enemies of Fortune, which contain some returning authors and several new ones. Abbey also oversaw the republication of the original anthologies in omnibus editions and has plans for future anthologies.
Looking for Satan - Vonda N. McIntyre
Ischade - C. J. Cherryh
A Gift in Parting - Robert Asprin
The Vivisectionist - Andrew J. Offutt
The Rhinoceros and the Unicorn - Diana L. Paxson
Then Azyuna Danced - Lynn Abbey
A Man and His God - Janet Morris
Essay: Things the Editor Never Told Me - Lynn Abbey