Whether by coin or by blood... YOU WILL PAY.
Blackguards is a anthology of anti-hero and rogue-themed stories published Ragnarok Publications and given an intro by Glen Cook. It is notable for being funded by one of the most successful literary Kickstarters of all time.
Featuring tales set in the worlds of Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria, David Dalglish's Dezrel, Mark Lawrence's The Broken Empire, Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori, Mark Smylie's Sword and Barrow, Anthony Ryan's Raven's Shadow, Shawn Speakman's Chronicles of Annwn, Carol Berg's Sanctuary, James A. Moore's Seven Forges, Django Wexler's Shadow Campaigns, Laura Resnick's The Silerian Trilogy, Peter Orullian's Vault of Heaven, Kenny Soward's Gnome Saga, Paul S. Kemp's Egil and Nix, and more.
This book contains the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Mainon, Jancy, Ceda, and Swech Tothis Durwrae.
- Antihero: Almost all of the heroes fall into one of the categories with most of them fitting into the upper side of the equation.
- Asshole Victim: Most of the villains in the story. Played exceptionally straight in The Long Kiss where the victim is horrifically butchered but, honestly, had it coming.
- The Atoner: Rosenwyn doesn't want to be a thief anymore, which makes her unique in the book's cast.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: A feature in many of the stories.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Najdan is a figure who believes in following his religious order's commands no matter what.
- Classy Cat-Burglar: Rosenwyn used to be one of these but has changed her mind. Surprisingly, most of the women tend to be much more action orientated and swashbuckling than this trope tends to apply to.
- Comically Missing the Point: Infamously, Glen Cook did this for the Foreword. He opened the book by praising Evil vs. Evil Villain Protagonist types, even citing The Iron Dream. This, despite the book being mostly Lighter and Softer fair about heroes on the wrong side of the law. It becomes Mood Whiplash when the second Foreword by the editor, J.M. Martin, following immediately after Glenn Cook's, talks about how his favorite rogue was Bilbo Baggins
- Deadpan Snarker: Prevalent. Royce and Hadrian, probably, are the two biggest ones in the book.
- Depraved Homosexual:
- Rümayesh is an example of this, being a lesbian drug dealer in fantasy Arabia who keeps enraptured slaves.
- Averted in Friendship which is built around a nobleman who is trying to call off the murder on his lover.
- Doorstopper: The Kindle version is over seven hundred pages long.
- Expy: Royce and Hadrian have quite a few similarities to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, though they're more inspired by them than direct take offs.
- Fantastic Drug: Rümayesh sells literal dreams to her customers. It's what gives her the godlike control over her followers she has.
- Guile Hero: A good half of the protagonists. Perhaps best displayed by Selden who comes up with a bizarre Xanatos Gambit to trick an incubus out of a Troll chieftain in Troll Trouble.
- Gentleman Thief: Quite a few of the rogues.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Royce and Hadrian are these.
- Hitman with a Heart:
- Mainon is one of these, being a woman who only kills those who have it coming.
- Subverted in Friends and The Secret where the assassins are considerably less sympathetic.
- Lovable Rogue: The majority of protagonists tend to be one of these.
- Mood Whiplash: Quite a few of the stories suffer from this but the stand-out is A Length of Cherrywood which is a horrific story of a slaver in a book of Deadpan Snarker Lighter and Softer Guile Hero types.
- Mugging the Monster: The Betyar and the Magus is a story about how a nobleman turned bandit screws up by robbing a powerful wizard on the road.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The assassin in The Long Kiss. She cuts the face off the bandit of the story after his confession and turns it into a mask—apparently what her order does.
- The Reveal: Done brilliantly with a Bait-and-Switch in Professional Integrity. The obvious twist the daughter is a werewolf being locked up on the full moon turns out to have been a double-blind to distract her nobleman father from the fact they're smuggling goods through his basement. The girl actually doesn't suffer from lycanthropy at all but is being drugged and substituted with a wolf through stage magic.
- Villain Protagonist:
- Averted, surprisingly, for the majority of stories. Most of the heroes fall into the Lovable Rogue category.
- Played straight in A Length of Cherrywood where the protagonist is complete scum.
- Also played straight in The Secret.
- Xanatos Gambit: Quite a few of these are in the story. For example, Mainon is about a complicated plan to assassinate a Duke by hiring a famed assassin to protect him while Professional Integrity is about a poor woman who has been framed for suffering a werewolf curse.
- Zany Scheme: Impersonating a diplomat, a priest, and a marriage counselor for a Troll chieftain in Troll Trouble.