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RPG Superstar 2015

The Anubis Murders (Trade Paperback)

****( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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by Gary Gygax, with an introduction by Erik Mona

The father of fantasy roleplaying and the co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game weaves a fantastic tale of warring wizards that spans the world from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the mist-shrouded towns of medieval England.

Someone is murdering the world’s most powerful sorcerers, and the trail of blood leads straight to Anubis, the solemn god known by most as the Master of Jackals. Can Magister Setne Inhetep, personal philosopher-wizard to the Pharaoh, reach the distant kingdom of Avillonia and put an end to the Anubis Murders, or will he be claimed as the latest victim?

160-page softcover trade paperback ISBN: 1-60125-042-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-042-1

Ian Randal Strock of SFScope.com has posted the first online review of The Anubis Murders. "I was taken with the character and his world," Strock says. "...this volume is a good episode of what could be an interesting series of books or television shows." In fact, The Anubis Murders is the first of three books starring Magister Setne Inhetep. The second, The Samarkand Solution, is slated for a April 2008 Planet Stories release.

The geek-focused folks over at Always Go Right had this to say about The Anubis Murders: "I was expecting a classic hero's journey in a fantasy setting, but what I got was a Sherlock Holmes mystery in a fantasy setting, with a lot more sexual tension between Holmes and Watson... I am impressed by the pure creativity Gygax demonstrates in this unusual book."

NOTE: Copies sold as "Non-Mint" have been dinged or bent during the course of shipment, or have some markings on the cover, so we're making them available at a discounted price. While they have some cosmetic damage, they'll make great second reading copies. There will be no refunds on these non-mint copies.

About the Author

In 1974, Gary Gygax (1938–2008) co-created the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, forever changing the face of fantasy. The hand-assembled first print run of 1000 boxed rulesets sold out in nine months, and by 1978 the game’s explosion in popularity warranted a three-volume harcover rules expansion called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons authored by Gygax. The release of AD&D coincided with the explosive popularity that catapulted the game into a true cultural phenomenon, introducing fantasy to a generation of new readers. D&D’s literary roots drew upon the sword and sorcery work of authors like Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Robert E. Howard, and by the mid-1980s D&D’s publisher, TSR, began to release their own line of fantasy fiction.

Thus was born Gord the Rogue, Gygax’s rakish, metropolitan thief whose daring adventures span seven novels: Saga of Old City, Artifact of Evil, Sea of Death, City of Hawks, Night Arrant, Come Endless Darkness, and Dance of Demons. Years later he introduced a new character, the crime-solving Ægyptian wizard-priest Magister Setne Inhetep, in a trilogy of novels: The Anubis Murders, The Samarkand Solution, and Death in Delhi.

Gygax's importance to American popular culture was solidified with an animated cameo alongside Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols in a 2000 episode of Futurama.

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Product Reviews (9)
1 to 5 of 9 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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Happy there are more to come.

****( )

I've never read any mystery novels before. I was quite satisfied with Mr. Gygax's offering. Inhetep and Rachelle are interesting characters, although I would have liked to see a little bit more "screen time" for Rachelle. She isn't the main character so I understand why, but I would have liked to see more.

The plot was good, but the build up was a little slow with a big flurry of activity during the reveal. I don't know if this is normal in mysteries, but it seemed a little rushed at the end.

None the less, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading of Setne and Rachelle's furthur investigations.


Planet Gygax

****( )

Everything on the surface of The Anubis Murders demanded that I read it: a fantasy and mystery novel, set in an alternative Earth in the analogues of (personal favorites) ancient Egypt and medieval Britain, with a wizard for a protagonist, and written by Gary Gygax, one of the mentors of my youth – one of the most important mythopomps to lead me, as so many of us, here. But it was this latter fact that held me back. Having never read any of Gygax's novels, I harbored a fear that the master behind beloved adventure modules, and above all, the epochal Dungeon Master's Guide, would embarrass himself and discomfort me the admiring reader when he ventured beyond gaming prose into sustained fiction narrative.

I need not have worried.

The Anubis Murders did more than banish these specters—it put them to flight with an entertaining invocation of mystery and magic. If you know Gygax's writing from gaming materials, your stylistic expectations are met: descriptions of color, arresting scenes, interesting detail, choosing (or making) the right word. But beyond his taking his trademarks and putting them to use in a novel, Gygax pulls you on through plot while proving himself capable of surprising the reader with more than the appeal of the strange and arcane. I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed Gygax as a character writer. While I admit my prejudice for the wizard-priest* and his nubile bodyguard, Gygax takes the proven formula of the duo and uses it both to drive plot and to bring out the character of his protagonist with subtlety and verisimilitude. By story's end, one has been treated to a fleshing out of how Gygax imagined magic, an intelligent action story, a villain worthy of the protagonists and promising them challenging future careers. I'm tempted to say more about this villain, but it is too easy to be a spoiler. I will simply not that finding out more about the villain was particularly satisfying.**

What might interfere with a reader's enjoyment of an otherwise fun yarn? If one is a constant mystery reader, one might figure out the plot rather too quickly. If one is an occasional reader of mystery, it might be best to read the book during a down mystery period, when one's plot detectors are a little flabby. If one's love of partner fiction leads one to desire or expect an equal partnership (Holmes and Watson, Farhrd and the Gray Mouser, Aubrey and Maturin), one will likely be disappointed. At this point in the arc at least, Setne is much more developed a character than Rachelle.*** Finally, certain kinds of students of history may well balk at the willful chronological naiveté of the tale. Gygax happily mashes Ancient Egypt and the matter of Britain (technically, it appears to just be pre-Arthurian), which is the low end of testing such tolerances – the reader should brace herself for the mention of the Bow Street runners! However, if one's predilections run as close to Gygax's as mine admittedly do, one is likely to wave such disjunctions away in the name of a good time. And with these caveats, that is exactly what The Anubis Murders will provide you.

I have KaeYoss and Lisa Stevens to thank for the sale that helped me risk my fears, but I hope that reviews and word of mouth will help banish these from any minds where they might yet linger. If you missed the sale, consider this: the foreboding cover illustration by Andrew Hou is worth the price alone.

Notes

Spoiler:

* Those who know the character from whom I derive my nom-de-net know will cry, “Of course he loves a wizard-priest protagonist!”
** And hence we come to Mr. Mona and his introduction. The esteemed editor has come in for a bit of pillory for his spoiling of the Gord the rogue plot in the reviews on this board. Personally, I'm not particularly troubled by his revelation – it is of a very broad nature and I'm not sure I'll ever get to the Gord the rogue novels with a vast sea of books and a finitude of lifetime before me. (Well, except for the Infernal Sorceress, of this same line.)


Meeting how it all began for Planet Stories

*****

The Anubis Murders by Gary Gigax it’s a curious way to begin a line about classic sci-fi writers (many of them unknown to the common reader), but as Erik Mona (in the prologue) and James Sutter (in PaizoCon 2009) exposed there is a reason.
Gary Gigax with his new game (not new any longer, and well known to most or all of us) and the early novels based on his first setting, both of which had a profound influence from this classic authors, exposed us to fantasy in ways that had been left forgotten in time.

Yes, fantasy and sci fantasy still existed, but the source that influenced lots of them and in the end the hobby in which we participate were left in the past and when reprinted... they lost much of what was worth on them.

So I suppose to begin Planet Stories was a tribute to the man who brought this lost world back to us. But why the Anubis murders, considering he had stories before it? Well Erik explains it plainly in his prologue so I won't ruin a good story... but I would also think it’s like to have a fresh beginning.

The Anubis Murders is presented in a world not so different than ours during the classic era, a quite defined world where Camelot brushed elbows with the "Ancient Egypt", a world where Merlin is a renowned wizard, but no more, a land where gods influence the world and an ancient evil stirs.

So why began with Anubis Murders? Because, it’s a good place to begin with.

The Anubis Murders is a refreshing look of the world and a refreshing read, one of the first stories in which we have a cleric (ok wizard priest) as the main hero. Not a man to take sword or "adventurous" even if he does follow adventure wherever it takes. Setneh Inhetep, servant of the pharaoh, wizard-priest, uncanny detective and a man with a rich background, made human for the fact that he not only has virtues, but also flaws he can understand and accept... if not change. Setneh takes us into the path of danger while analyzing his surroundings, seeing beyond our sight, but giving a few clues so we can arrive to his same conclusions by our own insight.

The Anubis Murders in the end is a detective stories of the pulp era happening in a world not so different than ours, and where magic should have made it easy to arrive to an early ending. But taking this into account I believe Gygax arrived to an elegant performance of why would magic doesn't uncover the mystery after a few chapters.

Yes, the story is NOT perfect and it has a few flaws. It falls in clichés (understandable with Gigax experience and how true he was to the classic sources) and his heroine Rachelle, even when she could easily be an heroic character he tells us early in the story that she can be as much heroine as lady in disgrace. No complains here, I did liked Rachelle.

Another small detail is how in the last chapters he exchange in descriptions one character for another, I suppose Paizo left this intentionally, letting the source be as true to itself as they could. The careful and attentive reader would, by the end of the book, certainly know of what I am talking about.

And if the fanatics of magic needed any more impulses or reasons to read this... you won't find a better example of 'Time Stop' anywhere; a vivid, vivid and creative use of magic. A living magic miles away of "I cast Magic Missile".

All in all, The Anubis Murders is a great detective story in the middle of a Sword and Magic universe. Enjoy the reading, I know I did.


A Fun Ride

****( )

The Anubis Murders is a fun read that is a good kick-off to the Planet Stories line. I quite enjoyed the book.

The Good
The characters are distinctive and the protagonists are interesting and engaging. I especially liked the rapport between them, and there was never a dull moment when they were featured. The plot moves along at a nice pace and the action is well-written.

The Bad
The only thing that was a bit out of place was the ending, which, without spoiling it, leaves a little room for improvement. Suffice to say, it's clear that this book was not meant to competely stand alone, as there is certainly unfinished business.

The Very Bad
If you are new to Gary Gygax's novels, and/or if you intend to read his "Gord the Rogue" series, then skip the introduction by Erik Mona. For some reason, Mona makes the (in my opinion) very poor decision to throw out a pretty major spoiler for both the novel and the Gord-The-Rogue series.

Again, I enjoyed the novel and look forward to more great stories in the line.


I liked it...

***( )( )

The Anubis Murders by Gary Gygax is a fun read. It is set in an Earthlike world where a Magician/Priest from Eygpt is asked to solve strange murders of strong wizards. This Magician/Priest is somewhat of a celebrity in his world and his life is filled with challenges. Gygax is not the best writer of fantasy fiction but he is a good story teller and creates interesting characters.


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