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The Anvil of the World (Lord Ermenwyr #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,477 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Kage Baker's stories and novels of the mysterious organization that controls time travel, The Company, have made her famous in SF. So has her talent for clever dialogue and pointed social commentary with a light touch. "Ms. Baker is the best thing to happen to modern science fiction since Connie Willis or Dan Simmons. She mixes adventure, history and societal concerns in j ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Tor Books (first published August 23rd 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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MB (What she read)
2nd read 11/14/08: Very fun book to read. The subversive humorous touches and surprises are very enjoyable.

I highly recommend that you read this book's prequel "The House of the Stag" first. If you do, this book will make a lot more sense and the humor and allusions will be richer (more obvious).

Note: The House of the Stag was published in 2008 but it is about Lord Ermenwyr's parents and sets up "the world" of this book so many things will be much more clear to you. The House of the Stag is more
Jul 30, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been disappointed with Baker’s work of late (will her Company series never get to the climax? Argh!), and the first two-thirds of this book did little to help. She created a rich, detailed, and varied world to play in, peopled with the highly-capitalist, pagan Children of the Sun (complete with fertility festivals and the ritual saying, “Joyous couplings!’), the vegan, holier-than-thou Yendri, and assorted demons, gods and saints. The first two adventures are nothing special, although they’ ...more
The Anvil of the World is not quite a novel, but rather three novellas, printed chronologically and linked by their cast of characters. I have a minor quibble with Tor in this matter, because the entire volume is divided only by line breaks, with a page break and a graphic of two swords crossing to indicate the start of the next novella, which made finding my page after I had set the book down rather difficult. (I don't use bookmarks.) It also made it less clear that that was to be the structure ...more
Michael Fierce

This book is about a long voyage to nowhere. I fell asleep at the ship's wheel.

Boring and definitely not for me.

Best thing about this book is the gorgeous cover, and why I bought it (many years ago).

I look forward to reading something else by Kage Baker someday because I've heard only great things about her writing.
Jamie Collins
Mar 21, 2014 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. A work of fantasy from Kage Baker, who was best known for her science fiction series about The Company. The book seems to consist of three novelettes, but they are contiguous stories and they fit together smoothly. This is quirky and amusing, and has a very slight steampunkish feel since the technology tends towards clockwork and steam power. There are also demons who have magical powers, so this is mostly fantasy.

The first story is lighthearted to the point of frivolousness, and it w
Elizabeth Bear
Apr 06, 2015 Elizabeth Bear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightfully weird and satisfying little book.
Mar 09, 2009 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rented
I've hit the "Kage Baker" section of my book shelf tonight, so I'm just going to sing her praises as I add her books to this catalog.

Basically Anvil of the World is great because it contains everything that's wonderful about Baker: she's funny, highly imaginative, a clear writer who can break out the style when need be (as in the case of Anvil of the World, where she goes a little bit old school fantasy in her tone), and, most importantly, she can write a novel with a moral message while at the
I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand the story was usually interesting, the characters were pretty unique, and the book made me chuckle quite a bit. On the other hand, sometimes I thought the story dragged and sometimes it crossed slightly over the line from funny into ridiculous.

This is a fantasy set in a world in which three different species live. You have the Children of the Sun, of which our main character is a member. These are essentially humans, the most numerous species
Genevra Littlejohn
The funniest, most intelligent fantasy I've read in ages! I'd love to meet Lord Ermenwyr sometime.
(This is also an absolutely excellent book to read aloud with a lover before bed. Not because it's necessarily erotic--it's not, though there are some deliciously sexy characters--but because it's just so wittily written that it'd a delight to share.)
P.f. Bruns
Jan 28, 2012 P.f. Bruns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a shame Kage Baker is no longer with us. Her The Anvil of the World spoofs elements of hackneyed fantasy (it starts with a caravan, for Heaven's sake) with wonderful dialogue and a culture with some very Pratchett-like elements. A great quick read.
Jenny Koch
This novel reads more like 3 related short stories featuring the same lead cast. While at the start, it seemed like just loads of zany humor, eventually everything starts to tie together and we start to see some stark realities: overpopulation, ecological destruction, racial tensions, etc.

Here's a favorite line of mine that encapsulates the sort of humor found in this novel:

"He said that any son of his ought to be able to make mincemeat of a third-rate philtermonger like Blichbiss, and it was h
Jim Mcclanahan
Jul 12, 2010 Jim Mcclanahan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first non-Company novel by Kage Baker. Turned out to be almost three stories in one. The first third was one of those "fantastic journey" segments, replete with conflicts among the denizens of Baker's world: humans, elvish types (the Yendril) and demons (who come in all guises). The hero, Smith, seems an unwitting and sometime unwilling participant in all the goings on while leading a caravan from the mountains to the sea.

In the second segment, demonic happenings occur in something of a murde
Feb 20, 2015 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stuff I Read - The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker Review

I've been meaning to read Kage Baker for a while now, and this seems just the place to start. While wandering the library a bit drunk (and with a cheese in my pocket) with my wife, she actually picked this one up (while I picked up a different book). But in my cunning I employed the old "wait until she's done reading it and then read it" tactic and waited until she was done reading it, then read it. It worked brilliantly. What I found was
Mar 15, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Comedy with a high body count. It really is pretty funny until the last part when it becomes not funny at all--but that part grew organically out of the rest, so it didn't seem like an arbitrary thing. Still, I gather from reviews that she does that in the sequels too. I kind of wish she'd stuck with the tongue in cheek tone; will probably go on to the others, but with somewhat lower expectations. The two "Smith"s make a great lead couple, and the supporting cast is full of surprises too. Better ...more
The Anvil of the World narrates the adventures of a man named simply Smith, who takes on a job as caravan master after giving up his old job of assassin. On the way from the inland city of Troon to the coastal city of Salesh, he meets a number of bizarre people, from the caravan's cook, Mrs. Smith (no relation) to the demonic half-breed Lord Ermenwyr. When the party reaches Salesh, the story really gets started - up until then, it's a little slow - and turns into a truly rousing adventure told w ...more
Feb 14, 2015 Tasula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An ex-assassin agrees to lead a caravan on a dangerous journey from Troon to Salesh, with the strange Lord Ermenwyr and his nurse as two of the passengers. It was idealistic and a little preachy (about discrimination against the "Greenies" by the Children of the Sun), but it's Kage Baker, who is always a lot of fun. And it's full of sly humor and what are almost slapstick episodes. Very enjoyable.
I really feel like this book deserves better than three stars, but it's not QUITE a four-star book, mostly because it really doesn't quite hang together as a novel. It's more like three interconnected novellas. I really enjoyed it, though -- Kage Baker may be the first author I've encountered who comes anywhere close to Terry Pratchett's masterful combination of cynicism, sentimentality, and humor. Yet the book does not feel like a direct attempt to copy or riff on Terry Pratchett, except in a " ...more
Darshan Elena
Sep 27, 2011 Darshan Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was political and amusing, intelligent and surprising, while remaining consistent with ye olde generic devices of fantasy. I appreciated the characters and the not-so-subtle references to our own societal failings and concerns. I adored the funny demons, and I was so relieved to read a fantasy where good and evil weren't simple divisions but rather social demarcations that depended upon perspective and experience. Well done!
Alison C
Mar 12, 2015 Alison C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Anvil of the World, by the late Kage Baker, appears to have started life as a novella; at least, the first long chapter was previously published in Asimov's. The novel is made up of three sections, all dealing with the adventures of Smith, a former assassin who has fled that life and taken up a new role, first as a caravan master and then as the proprietor of a resort hotel. In the first section, he heads his cousin's caravan on its trek from inland Troon to seaside Salesh, and finds that hi ...more
A trio of interconnected novellas. The first is a fraught caravan journey, and a particularly vivid, humorous example of worldbuilding via travelogue. The second is domestic, more successful for its colorful characters (many reoccurring) than for what it eventually reveals about their backstories. The third has a larger scale and stronger plot, and reads differently: it's not as fun as its predecessors, but has more weight and thus makes for a fitting conclusion. I tend to have no sense of humor ...more
Marie desJardins
Jun 18, 2010 Marie desJardins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I was just not in the mood for a fantasy book, but I put this one down after just a couple of chapters. I simply couldn't bring myself to care about the story or the characters. It's all meant to be clever, funny, and tongue-in-cheek, but it just has no depth whatsoever, in my opinion. Pass.
This book has three parts. It went from good to great to oh-my-god amazing. I am awed that Baker was able to make the last section as profound as she made it. There is no pretense to this book, no grasping, no overwrought tropes. It's not perfection incarnate or anything, but it's damned good.
Sep 06, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was going to go three-and-a-half, but what the hell... the ending really, really worked for me!

This was really three connected novellas (or novellettes, or long short-stories--you get the picture). Having never read Baker, I had no idea what to expect. But now ... I expect I'll be reading some more. ;)

Lots of fun. It dragged a bit in the middle parts, but the ending was really worth the effort of getting there (and it's short enough that "effort" is probably not the right word).

While the book te
Hilarious. I love how fantasy tropes are turned on their heads. Thoroughly engaging and tongue in cheek. Why have I not devoured all of Baker's works?
Yolanda Casica
Jul 21, 2014 Yolanda Casica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly funny and heartwarming. I went into the story thinking it would just be an average adventure book. I'm glad I was wrong. Everything this book offered was unexpected, but nevertheless appreciated for its fantastic deliverance.

The book cover and synopsis don't do the actual story much justice. Also, as I was reading a strange thought occurred to me. The story was good and fine on its own, yes, but it would have been better suited in the middle or at the end of a series.

Besides that
Feb 01, 2014 Kira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The way the story flowed was kind of a lot of ways, it felt like three shorter stories tied into one. Maybe it's just the way the plot twists, but I could see three story arcs as I read through. The cast of characters is eclectic and sometimes amusingly named: Smith, Smith's cousin, Mrs. Smith (not Smith's wife) Keyman/Porter Smith, Keyman/Porter Smith the younger...and then we have names like Lord Ermenwyr.

Some of the political/cultural elements reminded me a little of Megan W
Kari Chapman
The world that this book was set in was interesting. I like the bits of history we got. However, the story had a hard time holding my interest. It seems to have been written as several smaller, related stories. I finished the first one and started the next one, but just put the book down one time and had no interest in picking it up again.

I think I had trouble connecting to the main character. He wasn't really an interesting character - he wanted nothing more than a boring life. That may have b
Mina Khan
I read this as part of my A to Z Female Fantasy Authors reading challenge. And I loved it!

This is a 4.5 stars read for me only because the story has three separate sections instead of flowing seamlessly as one story. The changes, esp. between parts 2 & 3, did take me out of the story for a bit.

But overall, I'm so glad I read it. Kage Baker is better known for her science fiction, however her first fantasy novel didn't disappoint. It was Terry Pratchett meets Sinbad the Sailor meets Faulty To
It took me a few to really get into this book. Started out, not slow, but almost uninteresting for me. But then it picked up and the humor settled in and I found I very much enjoyed this one. Almost a steampunk sci-fi story. Smith (that's his alias) has been a hired assassin for many years but he doesn't enjoy it. He tries working for his cousin, leading a caravan of passengers and freight from Troon to Salesh by the Sea. The caravan has all kinds of characters, one being Lord Ermenwyr, a myster ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an interesting book. You find yourself immersed in a world of adventure of not 1 but 3 great tales. It all begins when Smith has to lead a caravan from his cousins town to Salesh-by-the-Sea. All along the way, they are met with difficulties of attacks and wrecks. Though, they finally make it to find that they failed to protect some cargo which gets them all fired. So, the team buys a hotel in Salesh and begin the business there. The next adventure deals with Smith and friends tryin ...more
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What's The Name o...: Fantasy novel about a guard of some kind [s] 4 25 Feb 16, 2013 08:14PM  
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Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more
More about Kage Baker...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Ermenwyr (10 books)
  • The House of the Stag (Lord Ermenwyr, #2)
  • The Bird of the River (Lord Ermenwyr, #3)
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“Don't imagine she trembles over the dissecting table either, Smith. She has nerves of ice. Real Good can be as ruthless as Evil when it wants to accomplish something, let me tell you.” 12 likes
“And they served me a lot of free drinks. So I drank a little more than I should have, maybe. So some of what happened I don’t remember too well. But there was a lot of shouting.”

“You must have killed somebody,” said Smith.

“Yes, I think I did,” Lord Eyrdway agreed.”
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