In 1978 a town was born. It was a gritty, dangerous place where anything was possible. Princes consorted with thieves, gods bickered in the alleys, and all the magicians were above average. The name of the town was Sanctuary and the THIEVES' WORLD® anthologies told its stories.
Then, after ten years of success, the curtain fell on THIEVES' WORLD®; Sanctuary's stage remained dark throughout the 1990's. A decade is a long time in the real world, but it was longer in Sanctuary. A great empire collapsed. Famine and plague ravaged the land Ranke had once ruled and, in Sanctuary itself, the outlaw cult of a bloodthirsty goddess gave new meaning to the words for terror and despair.
Nearly forty years after the closing scenes of Stealers' Sky, the final volume of the first series, anyone returning to Sanctuary would be struck by how much a town can change and yet remain essentially the same. There's still a Maze southeast of the palace, but it's a different Maze, and though the palace stands where it has always stood, the men and women who dwell there are very different, too. Names that were once known to everyone have been reduced to myth and rumor or, worse, forgotten altogether. Yet Sanctuary's spirit has survived: terror has somehow given birth to ambition, despair has begotten hope for a whole new cast of characters in a new, but familiar, setting.
THIEVES' WORLD® is back in business, and Sanctuaryis its calling card.
Like the town itself, Sanctuary functions on several levels. It reiterates in bold strokes the stories that have already been told; it outlines the dark years after the sack of the distant Rankan capital; and it defines the conditions that prevail in Sanctuary as the second anthology series begins. And it does all this within the recognized structure of a novel, not a history book.
Three characters control the revelations of Sanctuary. The first is Cauvin, orphaned in infancy, a stonemason by trade, and a man who went scavenging at precisely the right (or wrong) place and time. The second is his young cousin, Becvar, known as Bec, who was born after bloodthirsty Dyareela's cult was finally suppressed and doesn't know why everyone remains so grim and jumpy. The third is Molin Torcholder, an old man who, if he wasn't the soul of the old Thieves' World®, at least knew where its bodies were buried . . . and where its rumored treasures have been hidden.
Molin has hoarded the city's treasures. Some of them are wrought from gold, some are the artifacts of history, and all are more valuable than mere coins or jewelry. Torcholder hadn't arranged to pass his legacy to another generation; he'd survived so much he believed he might live forever. By the time Molin realized he was wrong about death, it was too late. Crippled and dying, Sanctuary's greatest spymaster has to transform a stonemason into a proper heir before his gods, his enemies, or Bec put an end to his life.
There is, of course, not much doubt that Molin will succeed; the excitement of Sanctuary rises from Cauvin's realization, as he gathers Torcholder's treasures, that he has become trapped in a dangerous game that reaches from the town's past to its future and which he can escape only by finding and outwitting all the other players. Cauvin's story stands on its own feet while his challenges illuminate portions of Sanctuary's past or present.
What Cauvin learns and observes forms the "factual" foundation for the new series. But Molin's most precious treasures are his memories of the truths that lie between fact and legend. These he passes along to Bec, who owes nothing to Sanctuary's bleak past and sees instead a glorious future where heroes, as well as thieves, can thrive.