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Lythande (Thieves World) (1985)

Lythande (Thieves World) (1985)
3.72 of 5 Votes: 2
0886771544 (ISBN13: 9780886771546)
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Lythande (Thieves World) (1985)
Lythande (Thieves World) (1985)

About book: This anthology has long been a treasured part of my fantasy fiction library. I can't recommend it highly enough. Seek it out from second-hand bookstore and prepare to be entertained by twist endings and resolutions that will challenge your notions of what makes a sword and sorcery hero. Lythande, the musician and pilgrim adept of the Blue Star, was one of the most compelling and popular characters of the Thieves World anthologies, appearing even on covers of editions in which the character didn't even appear. This collection of Lythande stories were written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Vonda N. McIntyre over seven years, from 1979 to 1986. They brought more of pilgrim adept's stories to life and filled a void that was left when Bradley stopped contributing Lythande tales to the Thieves World setting.There's dark sword and sorcery, as you'd expect from The Secret of the Blue Star, which serves as an introduction to this character. All adepts keep a secret, the secret that is the source of their power. And when two pilgrim adepts meet, the stakes are raised, as each tries to uncover the secret of the other, and win power over them. Lythande must call upon a mighty, but dangerous illusion, to maintain that secret. But will a trusted ally's secret be betrayed in the process?Not all the tales are grim and dark. Lythande is caught in quite the pickle in the humorous The Incompetent Magician. Less humorous, but no less vexing, is the magical compulsion Lythande must cope with in Somebody Else's Magic. Sea Wrack is Bradley's take on the alluring cry of the siren's song. Music -- and love -- prove bittersweet in The Wandering Lute. The anthology closes with McIntyre's memorable take on Lythande in Looking for Satan, which stretched the bounds of what -- under the shared-world rules of writing for Thieves World -- one author could do to a character created by another author. Yet, this Lythande tale is so deftly handled, so compelling, the exception was made.

I first read this as a kid when I was getting into fantasy, and I remember thinking it was pretty cool. Well, it has some good elements (Lythande is a cool character, and the plots of the short stories gathered here are all pretty enjoyable), but honestly, MZB is not the best writer in the world, and her prose is clunky at best. The final short story, not even by MZB but by another writer, is downright terrible. It would be fun if some other writer could pick up this character and spin some more tales, because I think the ideas are solid, but the quality of the writing just isn't there.
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I'm not a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley - her ideas are good but her writing style is a mess.BUT...the last story in this collection, "Looking for Satan" by Vonda McIntyre, is worth it. It features Bradley's Lythande character but thankfully, this author can write. An enjoyable fantasy adventure with interesting world-building and likeable characters that can be read as a stand-alone story (the stories by Bradley give some more information on Lythande, but you can skip them and still understand McIntyre's work).
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I love me a good sword and sorcery story: I remembered Lythande from her first appearance in Thieves World, a shared world anthology that included not just Marion Zimmer Bradley but Poul Anderson, John Brunner, and in other books in that world Philip José Farmer, David Drake, A.E. van Vogt, C.J. Cherryh. I'm also a Marion Zimmer Bradley fan, or at least, a fan of her Darkover books. Looking to winnow my book collection, I couldn't bear to get rid of even the weaker books in that world, but I find it easy to let go of Lythande.This isn't a novel but six linked short stories about Lythande, an "Adept of the Blue Star" whose powers depend on keeping a secret--that's she's really a woman disguised as a man. In her introduction Marion Zimmer Bradley all but says Lythande is a lesbian, yet insists she doesn't want to cater to the "unhealthy curious male" by writing about lesbian women. It seemed an odd statement. Maybe it's just the times this was published in--1986, but I don't get why the question is even raised given it's obvious this is part of Lythande's identity. Actually, given her situation I think it would be more poignant if she were drawn to men--she can reveal her secret to women, but not men. In fact, Lythande doesn't relate to men at all--not as brother, father, mentor, colleague or friend and most of the men in these stories are fools, cads, or rapists. I didn't like how she made fun of the stammerer in "The Incompetent Magician." Sometimes details were inconsistent, and often repetitive as each story gives her background. Most important, I didn't remember any of the stories without rereading--they're just not that memorable. Indeed, my favorite story in the collection was the only one not by MZB but by Vonda McIntyre, "Looking for Satan." I'd recommend other books by MZB over this one, and the anthology Thieves' World over Lythande.
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