Anvil of the World

June 26th, 2005

I was sold on Anvil of the World by Kate’s review, which captures some of the story’s interestingly serious bits and humorous bits (particularly the intro paragraph of the book, which I won’t re-quote here, just read Kate’s review) in a way that I’m not going to try and replicate. As she and Koz both mention, this is not a unified story, but I don’t know if I would actually characterize it as three novellas. More accurately, this is a novel in three parts, as the second and third each build of necessity on the stories that come before them, merely having individual plot curves and climaxes as would be characteristic of individual stories. But I digress… Anvil of the World tells a story from the perspective of a man who calls himself Smith, in a world where that name is even more common than our own due to certain essential religious ties. Trying to escape a shady past, he begs a job as caravan master from a cousin in a city distant from where he’s had his troubles. He soon discovers that caravan master, particularly on the route he’s intended to run and with the cargo and passengers he’s been contracted to guide, is far from an easy ride. The second part of the story is an almost straightforward murder mystery, well…almost straightforward except for the fact that it’s set in and tied intricately to a fantasy world’s complex race and religious issues. Despite that, the humorous tone Baker sets early on is continued throughout…even through the deadly-serious-in-scope adventure that forms the conclusion of the book. Like Kate, I was reminded of Hughart’s ability to juggle humor, mystery, magic, and significance. This is a very, very good book, and I recommend it without reservation.

7 Responses to “Anvil of the World”

  1. Kate Nepveu says:

    Hooray! So glad you liked it.

  2. This is the new "universal hit" book, which only means that people who wouldn’t like it are correctly staying away…

    At any rate, though, if you liked this, you should definitely read Vance (if you haven’t already).

  3. Mike Kozlowski says:

    Tor has a Dying Earth omnibus; get that.

  4. Skwid says:

    That would be Tales of the Dying Earth? Consider it added to the list.

  5. Skwid says:

    I haven\’t, but I\’m willing. What\’s a good place to start?

  6. Trent says:

    Also for Vance, I would recommend the Lyonnesse trilogy (reviews on my site; just check the author index), especially if you like fantasy that’s much, much quirkier (and better) than the standard grade Eddings pablum.

    Also, for Baker, I’d definitely recommend her Company novels, unless you have an aversion to starting a series that isn’t completed yet. One way around that is the short story collection _Black Projects, White Knights_ (also reviewed on my site), which is set in the same milieu but more self-contained. Baker has a nice touch with mixing humorous and serious.

  7. Skwid says:

    Ah, excellent. Thanks, Trent.

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