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''Thieves' World'' is a dark urban fantasy SharedUniverse created by Robert Asprin in 1978 and mostly focused on the city of Sanctuary. It drew in authors like Creator/PoulAnderson, Creator/JohnBrunner, Andrew J. Offutt, Creator/CJCherryh, Janet Morris and Creator/MarionZimmerBradley (with the first ''Literature/{{Lythande}}'' story) to contribute, and generated a buttload of books (12 short story compilations, 8 official novels, some graphic novel adaptations of the compilations and roleplaying adaptations from the likes of Creator/{{Chaosium}} and Creator/{{FASA}}) before it went on hiatus in 1989.

Then in 2002 Lynn Abbey published a new novel in the universe, ''Sanctuary'' which re-started the series several decades later. Two additional anthologies were published, as well as D20 books from Creator/GreenRonin.

The stories by in large focus on the poorer and nastier inhabitants of Sanctuary, a desert town on the edge of the Rankan Empire. It is implied that a good amount of the conflict in many of the stories is the result of the struggle between the warlike Rankan gods and the Ilsigi ones they displaced when they took over. Later in the series, the city is reconquered by a new group - the snake-worshipping Beysib - which adds another faction to the divine squabbling already going on.


!!''Thieves' World'' embodies the following tropes:

* AdjectiveAnimalAlehouse: The city of Sanctuary has the Vulgar Unicorn and Golden Lizard taverns. Several vague descriptions of the Vulgar Unicorn's sign are given, including "... that animal improbably engaging itself" and similar.
* TheArchmage: Hazard-class mages.
* ArtInitiatesLife: A great mage gave one of the recurring characters this ability but most of the time it proved [[BlessedWithSuck rather inconvenient]].
%%* AuraVision
* BlessedWithSuck: Tempus, [[spoiler: whose role as the avatar of the storm god makes him immortal but not invulnerable. No matter how horribly he's injured he ''will heal eventually'' suffering all the while. The same god also made him incapable of "taking a woman in gentleness".]]
** That's a mix of divine contract and being cursed by a mage. Along with his sister.
*** As one of [[Webvideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony's]] Webvideo/CounterMonkey's [[http://spoonyexperiment.com/2012/03/04/counter-monkey-thieves-world-part-1-poor-impulse-control/ stories]] show, this can suck even worse than one would expect.
%%* BloodBrothers
%%* BreakoutCharacter: Tempus Thales
%%* TheCityNarrows
* ConditionalPowers: The powers of the Blue Star Adepts require them to keep a DarkSecret about themselves and they lose their powers if that secret becomes known.
* ConstrainedWriting: In "The Secret of the Blue Star", Creator/MarionZimmerBradley carefully tried to [[spoiler: avoid referring to the gender of the magician Lythande to conceal the TwistEnding that [[SamusIsAGirl Lythande is a woman]].]] She did slip up at one point, however.
-->Lythande drew from the folds of his robe a small pouch containing a quantity of sweet-smelling herbs, rolled them into a blue-grey leaf, and touched his ring to spark the roll alight. He drew on the smoke, which drifted up sweet and greyish.
* CrapsackOnlyByComparison: In "Looking for Satan", Sanctuary is seen as especially awful by a group of people who come from a {{Utopia}}.
* CrapsackWorld: Sanctuary is not a nice place to live unless you are very rich. If you are very rich, most of the rest of the population want to kill you and take your stuff. And they may try -- unless some rival will manage to get rid of you before, that is.
%%* CurseOfTheAncients: "Crow!"
%%* DarkerAndEdgier
* DesperateObjectCatch: The sorcerous globe Niko tosses to Randal.
%%* DisposingOfABody
%%* EatTheEvidence
* FantasyPantheon: FantasyPantheon turf wars, no less!
* GoodThingYouCanHeal: Tempus, as part of his BlessedWithSuck.
* HaveYouSeenMyGod: Most of the Ilsigi gods, most of the time.
* HeroesWantRedheads - And it's frequently reciprocated. The ones who get to know her closer tend to change their opinion quickly, though. Whether due to her... rather unusual habits, acting batshit crazy at times or ego bigger than the prince's palace.
%%* LowFantasy
* JerkAssGods: Most of them, most of the time.
%%* KingOfTheHomeless
* MagicFromTechnology: Kemren the Purple Mage with his {{mana}} generating waterwheels.
* MoralityAdjustment: Jubal, after realizing it's his own fault that he got the crap beaten out of him and then had healing GoneHorriblyWrong, was still a crimelord, but more wise, considerate and even willing to spend efforts for common benefit, e.g. [[spoiler:setting Chenaya's bright, but dislocated brain straight or the "Envoy of Sanctuary" project]].
* MuggingTheMonster: Wess vs. Bauchle Mayne and an accomplice in the story "Looking For Satan" in Book 3 ''Shadows of Sanctuary''. Ischade due to her curse seeks such incidents.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Prince Kadakithis was nicknamed "Kittycat" soon after he arrived and [[NewEraSpeech publically expressed a naive intention to clean up the city]] but it didn't take long for Sanctuary to beat the naivete out of him. Afterwards he chooses to pretend he's still a weak-willed wide-eyed aristocratic dilettante. He never stops trying to improve the city; he just gets more subtle and realistic about it.
* PowerAtAPrice: Magic-users inevitably turn out to be either cursed or paying a price. Sometimes bordering on BlessedWithSuck.
%%* PowerTattoo: The Blue Star Adepts
* PsychicPowers: At least three different traditions - S'Danzo seers ([[SpiderSense precognition]]), Bandaran adepts (AuraVision and other sensory powers, self control) and barbarians (body enhancements like SuperSpeed and other useful tricks).
* ReassignedToAntarctica: The governor of Sanctuary is the Emperor's idealistic half-brother, sent there to get him out of reach of any political conspirators wanting to make use of him.
%%* RitualMagic
* RoyalBrat - Generous, powerful, clever, beautiful... and extremely immature in some respects. Divine blessing from such a young age spoiled her even more than her high status possibly could.
%%* SharedUniverse
%%* SummoningArtifact
%%* TarotMotifs
* TheTropeWithoutATitle: The Ilsigi war god is referred to only as Him-whom-we-do-not-name, ostensibly because the Ilsig are a peaceful people.
%%* WelcomeToTheBigCity: In "Looking For Satan" by Vonda [=McIntyre=].
* WretchedHive: Sanctuary.