Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Anvil of the World (Lord Ermenwyr, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Anvil of the World (Lord Ermenwyr, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Anvil of the World

(Lord Ermenwyr #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 ratings  ·  164 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.

The Anvil of the World is her first fantasy novel, a journey across a fantastic landscape filled with bizarre creatures, human and otherwise. It is t/>The
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by Tor Fantasy (first published August 23rd 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Anvil of the World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Anvil of the World

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,855 ratings  ·  164 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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 H
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Genuinely funny fantasy is hard to find (although stupid humor masquerading as fantasy is not), and this book succeeds marvelously.

It reminded me quite a lot of ‘Thieves' World' – which means, I suppose, that I should say it reminded me of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, but I guess that places me in my cultural era! However, I found this book to be both wittier and more enjoyable.

It's made up of three linked novellas, following an ex-mercenary named Smith.
In the first sto
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 w
Elizabeth Bear
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a delightfully weird and satisfying little book.
Peter Tillman
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rating: "A". Near-perfect light, funny fantasy-California adventure stories. 4.5/5 stars

My longish 2004 review:

Anvil reads something like a Pratchett novel, if Pterry were a native Californian and had a Vancian knack for lush description. The wide-screen plot and wiseass characters are Baker originals. Not to mention Lord Ermenwyr's verbal-abuse death-duel....

Do give the
Dec 13, 2013 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
Jamie Collins
Mar 17, 2014 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
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.
Honestly, this was so much better than I thought it would be. I’m still thinking about it days later, and I think it put me into a reading slump because I don’t want to read anything else unless it’s as good as this was.

It all begins when a world-weary assassin decides to subtly leave the life. He takes on the alias Smith and becomes a caravan master, where he is responsible for a colorful cast of characters. There’s the athletic courier Burnbright, the sensitive healer Willowspear, the enigmat
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2017
During my regular trawl through the Kindle Store, the sequels to this book popped up. After buying them, I thought that I might as well buy this as well so that I could re-read it in preparation for the sequels.

I must have read this book when it first came out, and it remains the only Kage Baker book that I've read to date, despite buying the entire Company series as those books came out - go figure.

It's still as gloriously deadpan as I remembered, made up of three segmen
Genevra Littlejohn
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.)
Perry F. Bruns
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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 nume
Jim Mcclanahan
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 somethin
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 with w ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 13, 2016 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
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
Darshan Elena
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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!
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Marie desJardins
Jun 18, 2010 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.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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?
Oswego Public Library District
It all begins when a world-weary assassin decides to subtly leave the life. He takes on the alias Smith and becomes a caravan master, where he is responsible for a colorful cast of characters. There’s the athletic courier Burnbright, the sensitive healer Willowspear, the enigmatic and slightly dangerous old lady Mrs. Smith, the whiny but captivating Lord Ermenwyr, and many more. Unbeknownst to him, Smith himself becomes the taciturn and deadpan nucleus in the whirlwind of their insanity. His odd ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this charming, well-constructed fantasy novel. I read that the author, Kage Baker, worked in theatre, and her style speaks of a theatrical eye. Most obvious, the book is in three acts, but also all the characters are types: matron, harlequin, ingenue... yet for all that they are fully fleshed and unique.

The first act finds our hero, Smith, taking a job as a caravan master as a way to escape his previous life. The travelers on the journey are a motley group, running from or to somethin
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really fun book that plays with fantasy tropes, without falling into fantasy cliches. While there is a fancy noble (Lord Ermenwyr) as a supporting character, the main character is a working man, Smith. We meet him as he plans to lead a caravan from the plains to the sea.

The novel consists of three novellas, following the life of Smith. Each story takes place about a year after the last one ended. They are very funny, and feel a lot like "In the Company of Ogres," by A. Lee Martinez, b
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this book simply because the author had the same last name that I have. (That’s a Popsugar category for the 2018 reading challenge - read a book by an author that shares your last name.) And, isn’t it a wondrous thing when you pick a book for a silly reason like that and you find something that is fun and thoughtful and well-written?

My one word description is lyrical. It was the same feeling I got when I read The Last Unicorn. And when I read books that feel ‘right’, I find it hard
Tony Hinde
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
It's difficult for me to rate this book. It consists of three stories with a consistent set of characters. The tone is light and humorous but there are some darker themes.

On the negative side, the story isn't visceral - it doesn't make your heart jump or swell. On the other hand, it is peopled by sympathetic characters and has an overall sweetness to it that is endearing, particularly the finish. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since that description almost fits "The Company" seri
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: Fantasy novel about a guard of some kind [s] 4 26 Feb 16, 2013 08:14PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Shadowbridge (Shadowbridge, #1)
  • The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)
  • Bone and Jewel Creatures
  • The Blackgod (Children of the Changeling, #2)
  • Jerlayne
  • One for the Morning Glory
  • The Prophecy Machine (Investments, #1)
  • Lifelode
  • The Bards of Bone Plain
  • The Constantine Affliction
  • The Necessary Beggar
  • Water Logic (Elemental Logic, #3)
  • Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood, #2)
  • The Complete Ivory (Ivory, #1-3)
  • Fires of the Faithful (Eliana's Song, #1)
  • Racing the Dark (Spirit Binders, #1)
  • Nine Layers of Sky
  • Dreams of the Compass Rose
See similar books…
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

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)
  • Mother Aegypt and Other Stories
  • Year's Best Fantasy 5
  • The Best of Kage Baker
  • Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy
  • Year's Best Fantasy 8
  • Best American Fantasy
  • The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy
“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.” 14 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.”
More quotes…