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Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris

Beyond Sanctuary (1985)

by Janet Morris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Thieves' World (Novels 1), Thieves' World Novels (1)

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285539,557 (3.9)None
  1. 00
    Beyond Wizardwall (Thieves' World Novel, No 3) by Janet Morris (MuseofHell)
    MuseofHell: The third in the "Beyond" series of novels spun-off from the Thieves' World(TM) series, chronicling the activities of The Sacred Band.
  2. 00
    Beyond the Veil (Thieves' World Novel, No 2) by Janet Morris (MuseofHell)
    MuseofHell: The second in the "Beyond" series of novels, spun-off from Thieves' World(TM) in which the Sacred Band members activities are chronicled.

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Showing 5 of 5
An enjoyable romp of a story, which jumps right in, assuming that you can catch up on the back story to many of the characters with little help in this novel.
I read some of the short stories featuring these characters about thirty years ago and fortunately quickly remembered, but a little more back story would have been useful.
The story itself is suitably convoluted, taking in multiple characters and viewpoints, allowing different interpretations on the same events. Starting in Sanctuary, a disreputable city familiar from the eponymous short story collections (or to readers of fantasy literature from Erewhon onwards), our characters make their way to Wizardwall, which is all very detailed and satisfying. The battle at Wizardwall is cursory and unsatisfying however, which is a shame.
I am back to read some of the original stories with new further backing stories, so it has engaged me, and I will be back for more. ( )
  CarltonC | Feb 7, 2016 |
I surprised myself; I liked this book a lot better than I thought I would! A fantasy, with background of a group of mercenary soldiers [based on the Sacred Band of ancient Greece, with the same name], witches, wizards, shape-changers, and a wintry country under the domination of an evil mage [wizard]. This Sacred Band, from a disreputable, shabby area known as "Sanctuary", confronts this country, beyond the "Wizardwall". It was a rousing story, kept my interest all through, but other elements were so-so. Characterization, other than Commander Tempus and Niko, of the Sacred Band, was lacking. The villains were cardboard cutouts. The author had an original idea, drawing on not only classical Greece, but Sumerian mythology. I was squeamish at some of the violence. ( )
  janerawoof | Jan 5, 2015 |
The title “Beyond Sanctuary” suggests to me a journey of exploration, setting out of known place, where it is safe to remain ensconced, to risk life and limb in a fight, a brutal war between forces of good and of evil. This is what this story, with Tempus in the lead, is about: “He has ridden at a devil’s pace out of the sanctuary, home to the Stepsons’ barracks, which once had been a slaver’s estate and thus had rooms enough for Tempus to allow his hard-won mercenaries the luxury of piracy.”

As the immortal commander of the Sacred Band cavalry, Tempus is at once blessed and cursed with his fate: “He lived interminably, though he could not sleep at all… And wounds he took healed quickly — instantly if the god loved him that day, more slowly if they had been quarreling.” Here is a delightfully pagan, mythological world, where gods have caprices just like us, and strife abounds in their realm, which is reflected in ours. There are conversations with gods, and pleas that end up neglected. When the altar of the god of war is destroyed, “‘Well, Vashanka?’ he tested. ‘It’s your altar they took down.’ But the god was silent.” In the final analysis, the emotions given us by the gods are not external to us. They become our essence. “The fury he’d once thought was lent him by a god raged inside him. Now he knew it was his own.”

The author, Janet Morris, writes with painterly images that stir the heart, and bring to mind the epic poetry of the Odyssey. “The assault on the high peaks keep came with dawn… Pink tipped arrows raced a hundred yards straight up, glowing with Enlil’s sanction, almost invisible in the tricky light of sunrise.”

Morris hovers over her magical universe, bringing attention to one character, then another. I was particularly drawn to Roxanne, the Nisibisi witch who stalks the Stepsons. “Roxanne cursed so that the snakes, once again in her service, rushed for cover, as soon as they’d slithered into her study to announce that Tempus was at the front door.” Despite her dark character, I find myself feeling for her at several twists of the story. Here is one: “But Datan’s spell worked faster. From his finger a bolt of royal blue shot out and caught her by the throat. Struck dumb, she reeled and stumbled backwards, hit a wall and slid down it, nearly senseless, crumpling in a heap.” And here, another: “If anything had won the day on Wizardwall and lost the war for magic, it had been her feelings for a youth who didn’t even know her.” I loved her pride, and her power. “She was, after all, Death’s Queen; she was eternal; she was Roxanne.”

Five stars. ( )
  Uvi_Poznansky | Jul 22, 2014 |
Janet E. Morris' Beyond Sanctuary is a splendid mashup of Dark Fantasy and ancient grandeur. Read this and you'll be transported into the Baroque masterpiece cover, joining the battlefield alongside gods and champions: Life to you, Reader, and everlasting glory!

The Cover: This Author's Cut version features Peter Paul Rubens' 1618 painting "The Death of Decius Mus in Battle"(translated title); this extends Perseid Press' cover art approach. This represents the book very well; it promises to drag you into epic, divine combat rooted in history. It delivers. Expect fantastic magic, doses of horror, stealth military sorties, and mature themes.

Tempus and Niko: The book follows many characters, but focuses on Tempus and Niko; the story arc leans toward Niko's plight, though Tempus is ever present. Tempus begins living a curse in which those who love him get hurt, and Niko recovers from losing his sacred partner (only to have his mind vied for by a god and sorceress). These are deeply motivated characters who parley directly with gods as contemporary immortals .

A Mature Read: Having not read the Thieve's World Series from which this novel evolved, I entered this with a blank slate. This is ostensibly the best starting point to delve into the Tempus & Niko series (see the reading list below). Here is what you can expect:

• History-Informed Magic & Culture: Foremost, Beyond Sanctuary blends fantasy with historical elements so seamlessly, that history-deficient-folk like myself cannot easily differentiate pure-fiction from history-informed fantasy. Whether it's Niko's attraction to young women (which creeped me out despite being common in many cultures long ago and even today) , the intimate pairing of elite warriors (~the Sacred Band of Thebes), or the landscape of Nisibis and Mygdonia (those were real territories)... heck, even the gods and spiritual concepts are informed from ancient beliefs (i.e. Enil, Maat). The immortal characters and magic are presumably fiction. This mashup of fantasy/history yields a rich world for the characters to navigate. An informative Wikipedia posting on the Sacred Band of Stepsons explains more.

• Mature Scenes: Adult-appropriate sexual scenes are abundant, though not gratuitous (they reflect the milieu informed by history).

• Style: Expect intricate sentences with a panoply of vocabulary (and even parenthetical asides).

• Names/Forms: Each character has multiple names (Stealth/Niko...Riddler/Tempus… Datan/Osprey … Roxanne/Cybele; and these folk assume various forms (they use illusions to become imposters, they shape shift into animals...)

• Factions: There is a large portfolio of guilds, states, and cultures (Stepsons, Sacred Banders, Successors, Gods, Hazard Class Wizards, Wizard Wall Wizards, Rankans, ...); the characters each have multiple allegiances (to men and gods, or just men, or just men of certain region, or men and wizards…).

• Conflict: Given so many characters with allied & competing factions, there are as many conflicts as there are combinations (Tempus vs. his sister, Cyme; Cyme vs. Wizards, Tempus vs. Gods, Tempus vs. Wizards, Tempus vs. Roxanne, Niko vs. Gods, free Nisibis vs. Wizards, Mygdonia vs. Tyse vs Nisibis…)

Series Reading List: Such depth requires more books! This first installment prepares readers for the series. Any fan of the Thieve's World would no doubt devour this novel; in fact, any fan of alternate histories or epic fantasy would enjoy it. For me, it's on to Beyond the Veil, and I can't wait to get to the later books that repackage the original short stories presented in Thieves World:

The Author Cut Versions, in strict chronology (as of 2014, noting that more books may be published ):

1) Beyond Sanctuary
2) Beyond the Veil
3) Beyond Wizardwall
4) Tempus with His Right-Side Companion Niko (this contains flashbacks and the five original Janet Morris Sacred Band of Stepsons tales presented in the original Thieves World anthologies)
5) The Sacred Band
6) The Fish the Fighters and the Song-Girl(this contains a new novelette and frame story, with flashbacks and the six original Janet Morris, Janet and Chris Morris, and Chris Morris Sacred Band of Stepsons tales presented in the original Thieves World anthologies) ( )
  SELindberg | Feb 28, 2014 |
Tempus: one of my favorite characters from Thieves' World, and in general. How could I resist the first novel? Or the second... or the third...

Those were good days. ( )
  Lyndatrue | Dec 24, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Janet Morrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beekman, DougCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruddell, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beyond Sanctuary is dedicated with respect and affection to Bob Asprin and Lynn Abbey.
And to the entire motley crew of TW writers: Long may we wave.
First words
In the archmage's sumptuous purple bedroom, the woman astride him took two pins from her silver-shot hair.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Janet Morris and Janet E. Morris are one and the same but she uses the name "Janet Morris" exclusively.
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Book description
Tempus: warrior-servant of the God of Storm and War. A hero cursed with immortality in a world where death haunts every  shadow...

Sanctuary: The meanest, seediest town in all of fantasy. Plagued by magic and murder, the heart of Thieve's World,

Now, in an exciting departure, Janet Morris, one of Thieve's World's most popular authors, takes her character, Tempus, beyond the city walls, beyond the imaginable dangers...

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