About 15 years ago I was reading an older fantasy book that I have now lost. It was probably written in the late 70s to early 80s. I only remember a few scenes and ideas in it.

In one scene, the king (I think) wanted to see if a court official was plotting something. So he has the court artist paint a portrait of him. The thing is, the artist paints the true nature of people when he draws them. So the ruler uses him as a way to test people. Part way through the painting the official looks at it and sees that it shows him killing the king. He tries to kill the artist but he gets away.

In the second scene, there is a lord of a race/style/nation of warriors that are next to impossible to kill because they are super fast and partially magical. They plot to kill him in his sleep by means of an assassin dressed as a concubine, but in the middle of the attempt he wakes up. He realizes what's going on and his belt turns into two snakes. The assassin jumps out of the window and he chases her but she escapes. She's one of the main characters.

I can't help much with plot, I was only about a fifth of the way in and it was an epic fantasy book. So it had only just laid the framework and described the different elements.

I remember there being a warrior priest semi god character that was losing his power, which was part of the plot. His fall weakened the ruling kingdom.

The last part I remember reading was about two thieves stealing ore that can be forged into the indestructible blades that the above priest uses.

Kind of a scattered memory, but the book had such potential and I remember it being highly recommended.


1 Answer 1


I believe you're thinking of the Thieves World anthology series. It was a shared-universe project, with many different authors contributing short stories and having access to each others' characters.

The stories you list lead me to believe that it's the second volume, Tales From the Vulgar Unicorn, published in 1980. This review provides some brief comments on the stories, but no summaries.

  • I'll hunt down the first two and verify, but after reading a few reviews I think you're right. The character Tempus feels very familiar and the city of Sanctuary does as well. Plus the overall premise of waring gods sounds about right.
    – michael
    Dec 7, 2016 at 14:13

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