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Marilyn Lorraine Abbey (1948-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

(Lynn Abbey)


Born 1948, in Peekskill, NY; Education: University of Rochester, A.B., 1969; New York University, M.A., 1971. Hobbies and other interests: "History (particularly eleventh century and the Normans), embroidery."


Agent—Spectrum Literary Agency, 432 Park Ave. S., Suite 1205, New York, NY 10016.


Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, NY, actuarial assistant, 1969-76; Citizens Hanover Insurance, Howell, MI, systems analyst, 1976-80; community resources teacher at public schools in Ann Arbor, MI, 1980-82; American Automobile Association, Dearborn, MI, systems analyst, 1982-84. Writer.


Science Fiction Writers of America.



The Guardians, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1982.

(With C. J. Cherry and Janet Morris) The Soul of the City, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(With Robert Asprin) Catwoman, Warner (New York, NY), 1992, published as Catwoman: Tiger Hunt, Millennium (London, England), 1992.

Siege of Shadows, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Aquitania, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1997.

The Simbul's Gift, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1997.

Planeswalker, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1998.

Jerlayne, Penguin USA (New York, NY), 1999.

The Nether Scroll: Lost Empires, Wizards Publishing, 2000.


Daughter of the Bright Moon, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Black Flame, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1980.


Unicorn & Dragon, Avon (New York, NY), 1987.

Conquest, Avon (New York, NY), 1988, published as The Green Man, Hodder Headline (London, England), 1989.


The Forge of Virtue, Warner (New York, NY), 1991.

The Temper of Wisdom, Warner (New York, NY), 1992.


The Wooden Sword, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Beneath the Web, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1994.


The Brazen Gambit, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1994.

Cinnabar Shadows, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.

The Rise and Fall of a Dragonking, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1996.


Out of Time, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Behind Time, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Taking Time, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Down Time, Ace Books (New York, NY), forthcoming.


(Editor with Robert Asprin) The Face of Chaos (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1983.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Wings of Omen (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Cross-Currents (omnibus; includes Storm Season, The Face of Chaos, and Wings of Omen), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) The Dead of Winter (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Soul of the City (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Blood Ties (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) The Shattered Sphere (omnibus; includes The Dead of Winter, Soul of the City, and Blood Ties), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Aftermath (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Uneasy Alliances (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) Stealer's Sky (also see below), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) The Price of Victory (omnibus; includes Aftermath, Uneasy Alliances, and Stealer's Sky), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor) Turning Points, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

Sanctuary: An Epic Novel of Thieves' World, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor with Robert Asprin) First Blood (anthology), Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

(Editor) Enemies of Fortune, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

Also adaptor of "Thieves' World" as a graphic-novel series, Starblaze Graphics (Norfolk, VA), 1985-87, and Donning Co. (Norfolk, VA), beginning 1986.


The Blood of Ten Chiefs, Tor (New York, NY), 1986.

Wolfsong: The Blood of Ten Chiefs, Tor (New York, NY), 1988.


"Thieves' World" was licensed as a board game and a fantasy role-playing game.


Writing under the name Lynn Abbey, Marilyn Lorraine Abbey is noted for her creation and co-editorship of the long-running "Thieves' World" fiction anthology series, as well as for her many fantasy novels. According to St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers essayist Mary Corran, "Abbey's talent is unmistakable …, most particularly in the creation of cheerless terrains peopled by sinister creatures of every type. She has constructed her own type of fantasy, where the endings are not always happy nor the heroes and heroines noble or fulfilled by their quests.… Abbey possesses the ability to create dark nightmares, where motives for valour are more complex than simple virtue. Her characters reflect the worlds they inhabit, filled with unsettling, malign emotions. The dismal settings may occasionally irritate; but they are very well drawn, and filled with a rare depth of detail which is formidably imagined."

Abbey came to her career as a fiction writer after working for several years as a systems programmer for New York and Midwest-basted insurance companies. Always interested in science fiction, she was eventually inspired to write her first sci-fi story while recovering from an automobile accident in 1977. Since her first book, Daughter of the Bright Moon was published in 1979, she has gone on to write numerous other fantasy novels set in widely varying worlds. Both Daughter of the Bright Moon and its sequel, The Black Flame, focus on Rifkind, a warrior, priestess, healer, and witch who, while also finding love with Domnhall, ultimately loses him to her ultimate destiny: battling evil in a hostile world of deserts and dangerous swamps. Abbey's "Ultima Saga," which includes The Forge of Virtue and The Temper of Wisdom, is set in a more conventional, near-medieval world.

Abbey's complex, detailed settings are a key ingredient in her work. As Corran noted, "whether the plot involves a quest, or a conflict of good versus evil, each world displays dirt and squalor and constant perils, both human and magical. These settings are designed to repel, not appeal to, the senses, and the major characters are similarly contrived to lack attractive or sympathetic qualities." In The Wooden Sword, for example, Abbey casts as protagonist a shepherdess named Berika, who avoids marriage to a deformed and mentally stunted man by running away with a mysterious stranger, who is ultimately killed. Although avoiding an ill-fated marriage, Berika ultimately is drawn into a tangle of political rivalries and revenge, and it is questionable whether her lot has improved by story's end.

The "Emma Merrigan" series is something of a change of pace for Abbey in that the setting is not as gritty as those featured in much of the author's fiction. A forty-something librarian, Merrigan is introduced in the 2000 novel Out of Time, when she discovers that she has inherited magical powers from a mother she has not seen in years. In Behind Time, Merrigan is called upon to rescue her mother from the underworld, battling demons at every turn, and when Mom is recovered and attempts to help Emma master her time-travel abilities—in Taking Time—she turns out to look and act like a twenty-year-old. In a review of Taking Time, Kliatt contributor Lesley Farmer wrote that Abbey's fantasy world in the "Emma Merrigan" books is "believable and fun," her characters "generally well developed," and her plot full of "interesting twists to sustain the reader's interest." Praising Behind Time as "compact and literate," Roland Green noted in a Booklist review that Abbey has created a "carefully and intelligently worked out system" of magic that "skillfully curb[s] … the bloating tendency of most fantasy fiction." Together with former husband and fellow novelist Robert Asprin, Abbey created a unique body of work within the fantasy-sci-fi genre with their shared-world concept known as "Thieves' World." The series, which began in the late 1970s, assembles fiction by a number of well known writers, each story based on characters and plots centered in the imaginary town of Sanctuary, founded by runaway slaves and described by a Kirkus Reviews writer as a "lawless, cynical, pun-filled, sometimes satiric and always-atmospheric pseudo-medieval fantasy realm." As Abbey once explained the "shared-world" concept: "Certain settings and characters were provided by us at the beginning of the project; each author is responsible for developing new characters. These settings and characters are 'shared' to the extent that, while retaining the author's individual style and outlook in a particular story, each volume of the series presents unified themes and advances along a single, predetermined chronology."

With the success of "Thieves' World," other publishers began to experiment with the shared-world concept, and similar projects have been published that collect not only science-fiction and fantasy, but also horror and Notable writers pen eleven tales of adventure and villiany in the lawless city of Sanctuary in a collection of fantasy fiction edited by Abbey. (Cover illustration by Jean Pierre Targete.) mystery short fiction. Although Abbey's own series went into a hiatus after 1990, it was restarted in 2002 with Turning Points, which contains stories by Abbey, Jody Lynn Nye, Jeff Grubb, Andrew Offutt, and Diana L. Paxton, among others. Enemies of Fortune further extends the popular series, and features characters that a Kirkus Reviews contributor described as "magical malcontents, scheming underlings, and charming criminal lowlifes" within its thirteen interrelated stories. Offutt, Nye, and Grub are joined by C. J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher, and other respected writers in the fantasy genre, their stories interwoven by Abbey "so deftly that the book reads like a novel," according to Booklist contributor Frieda Murray. The "Thieves' World" books have also inspired a series of role-playing games, and have been the basis for a graphic-novel series. In addition, Abbey has authored an entire novel based on the series. Appropriately titled Sanctuary, the book features many of the characters that series fans have come to know. Containing much of the history of the town of Sanctuary, the novel provides a refresher course for those out of touch with the two-decade-old series; according to Greene in Booklist, "coming from Abbey's capable pen," this well-crafted introduction for Thieves' World neophytes "is good news for all heroic fantasy fans."

Biographical and Critical Sources


St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Booklist, August, 1994, p. 2029; June 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of Behind Time, p. 1855; April 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Sanctuary, p. 1386; November 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Thieves' World: Turning Points, p. 584; November 15, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune, p. 571.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Thieves' World: Turning Points, p. 1433; July, 2004, Lesley Farmer, review of Taking Time, p. 26.

Library Journal, June 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Sanctuary, p. 99l; November 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Thieves World: Turning Points, p. 106; November 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune, p. 54.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1991, review of The Wooden Sword, p. 55.


Lynn Abbey Web site, http://www.lynnabbey.com/ (January 5, 2004).*

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