Birthday Reviews: Robert Lynn Asprin’s “No Glad in Gladiator”

Birthday Reviews: Robert Lynn Asprin’s “No Glad in Gladiator”

Cover by Gary Ruddell
Cover by Gary Ruddell

Robert Lynn Asprin was born on June 28, 1946. He died on May 22, 2008.

Asprin won the coveted Balrog Award for the Thieves’ World anthologies Shadows of Sanctuary and Storm Season. The first anthology in the series, Thieves’ World, was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. In addition to his work on the shared world series, Asprin is also known for his long-running Myth series, featuring Skeeve and Aahz. Other series, often written with co-authors, include Phule’s Company, Time Scout, and The Cold Cash War. For a time, Asprin was married to Lynn Abbey, who co-edited several of the Thieves’ World anthologies and eventually resurrected the series in the 2000s.

“No Glad in Gladiator” was published in the ninth volume of the Thieves’ World series, Blood Ties, edited by Asprin and Lynn Abbey in 1986. Its only reprinting was in the third Thieves’ World omnibus edition which included volumes 7-9, The Shattered Sphere.

The gladiator slave Jubal was one of the first characters introduced in the Thieves’ World shared world series, conceived by the series creator, Robert Lynn Asprin. By the time the ninth volume rolled around, Jubal had enjoyed his triumphs and suffered his set backs. In “No Glad in Gladiator,” Asprin has cast him in the role of eminent grise, showing a meeting between Jubal and Chenaya, a Rankene noblewoman and gladiator who is trying to make her way in Sanctuary.

Despite both characters’ background as gladiators, “No Glad in Gladiators” is a relatively static story. Asprin has the two characters sitting in a room talking, Chenaya’s looking for an alliance with Jubal and Jubal, after explaining why he isn’t interested in an alliance, explains to Chenaya all of her shortcomings. The story doesn’t fully work without its larger context. Jubal provides enough information about himself for the reader to understand who he was, and is, but Chenaya’s history is only painted in broad strokes, making her something of an enigma.

More than many of the stories that appeared in the Thieves’ World anthologies, “No Glad in Gladiator” is designed to be read as part of the series. Taking it separately from the other stories, at least without reference to Robin Wayne Bailey’s tales of Chenaya or Robert Lynn Asprin’s other Jubal stories, means the characters can’t really shine and since there is little action or interaction with the setting as a whole, it never really coalesces into more than one character providing his opinion of the other.

Reviewed in its original publication in the anthology Blood Ties, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey, Ace 1986.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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I have the (12?) thieves world books on my shelf waiting to be read. From what I understand they are all short fiction set in the same world and are slightly chronological?

I ended up buying the first one on a whim because i liked the cover and I could read the first two Robert Asprin Myth books over and over.

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