I remember reading this short story ~15 years ago. What I remember:

  1. Back in the 90's, Martin Greenberg published a LOT of themed anthologies, and I think that this was in one of them. I think it was a new copy of a book at least. Somewhere in the area of 1997-2001 is the best estimate I can give. But it may have been published previously and either reprinted or simply sat on the bookstore shelf for a long time.

  2. The short story was, according to the preface paragraph, the first of a series by the author.

  3. The story was based on Bob Dylan's song "All Along the Watchtower." The plot roughly follows the things that happen in the song.

  4. The story takes place from two viewpoints, the court jester and a thief.

The thief has a magical goblet which overflows endlessly with wine. The plan is to present it to the king and get him and everyone around him hopelessly drunk, followed by robbing him blind.

Meanwhile, the jester is in love with the princess, who is completely blind to his affections, eventually dismissing him as not being capable of understanding true love the way she does (because he's a peasant).

Things don't go quite according to plan, and the thief and the disillusioned jester end up teaming up and getting away, riding off into the distance. As this was the first in a series, it feels very Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser-esque.

  1. For whatever reason, I seem to recall the author being referred to in the preface paragraph as a woman.

Hope that's enough. I remember really enjoying the story, and I'd love to find it again and the other stories in the series.

  • goodreads.com/book/show/18010180-along-the-watchtower - The timescale is completely wrong though. – Valorum Feb 23 '15 at 16:26
  • Sorry, I'm afraid that's not it. – Broklynite Mar 14 '15 at 9:32
  • It's not "The Jester", by Michael J Sullivan, right? Also, I don't think it was by Greenberg. I couldn't find anything that linked him with a story like this. Could be wrong though. – Arthur Dent Jun 29 '17 at 20:16
  • @ArthurDent looks like that's from 2014 if I'm reading right. This story was read back in the 90s. – Broklynite Jun 29 '17 at 23:43
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    @Mooz No. There was a preface paragraph- a little about the story and author which is typical in the Greenberg anthologies. The paragraph said that this was the first of a series, and referred to the author by the pronoun "she". Hope that clarifies. There was no narrator, the story was told third person. – Broklynite Jul 4 '17 at 0:54

Elizabeth Lynn's "Watchtower" and the sequel "The Northern Girl" The first novel has a seen exactly like the song, and was for years never published because of part of the plot - The two heirs to a throne fall in love and want to rule jointly, but many people either don't want two gay kings, or two married rulers who are twin brothers, though the book more concentrates on people's reactions to social changes and how someone can see merits in an argument without agreeing with it. . The second novel deals with the experiences of one of the non-royal protagonists and explains his motivations i the later book by an adventure he had.

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    Looking into it, I don't think so for two reasons: 1. this was a short story, not a book. 2. I don't remember any homosexual/incestuous story elements. There's a sentence I never thought I would write. – Broklynite May 17 '15 at 9:16

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