MARTIN SCOTT – Thraxas. Baen, paperback original; 1st US printing, September 2003.

   Private eye novels come in all flavors and from all directions. Let me start with the opening paragraph or so, and you’ll see what I mean, and right away:


   Turai is a magical city. From the docks at Twelve Seas to Moon Eclipse Park, from the stinking slums to the Imperial Palace, a visitor can find all matter of amazing persons, astonishing items and unique services. You can get drunk and swap tales with Barbarian mercenaries in the dockside taverns, watch musicians, tumblers and jugglers in the streets, dally with whores in Kushni, transact business with Elves in Golden Crescent, consult a Sorcerer in Truth is Beauty Lane, gamble on chariots and gladiators at the Stadium Superbius, hire an Assassin, eat, drink, be merry and consult an apothecary for your hangover. If you find a translator you can talk to the dolphins in the bay. If you’re still in need of fresh experiences after all that, you could go and see the new dragon in the King’s zoo.

   If you have a problem, and you don’t have much money, you can even hire me. My name is Thraxas.

   His sometimes assistant is a barmaid named Makri, a handy lass with a sword and prone to wearing a tiny chainmail bikini. This introductory volume in the United States actually consists of two novels as published in England: Thraxas and Thraxas and the Warrior Monks, and weighs in at a hefty 442 pages, in my opinion well worth your money at $7.99, and decidedly so if you’re still with me after reading that first paragraph above.

   And I’ll leave the plots for you to discover on your own. The books are exactly what I am sure you think they are, and better. They’re funny, too. Since you can’t stop me, I’ll continue with some quotes from the second half of the book:

    Makri lights a thazis stick, inhales a few times and passes it to me. I pour us a little klee. Makri’s eyes water as it burns her throat on the way down.

    “Why do you drink this stuff?” she demands. “We’d have rioted in the slave pits if they’d tried serving it to us.”

    “This is top quality klee. Another glass?”


    “…the Venerable Tresius lied about not meeting any other monks in the city. What if he’s really after the statue for his own temple and is using me to locate it for him? Wouldn’t be the first time some criminal tried to use me as a means of finding something. Wouldn’t be the tenth time in fact.”

    “That’s what you get for being good at finding things.”

    Makri wears both her swords, more or less hidden under her cloak, and slips a long knife into each of her boots. As usual, she is not entirely comfortable without her axe, but it’s too conspicuous. There is no legal reason why a woman can’t walk around Turai carrying an axe, but it isn’t exactly an everyday sight. A fully armed Makri — lithe, strong, and a blade sticking out in every direction — presents a very worrying sight for the Civil Guard. She tends to get stopped and questioned, which is inconvenient when we’re on a case. Also we get refused entry to high-class establishments.

   I’ll stop here. Fantasy and the true detective novel don’t really mix — take for example the impossible crime of the missing two-ton statue, which no one saw being removed — utterly fantastic? Yes.

   On the other hand, there is a fair-play clue involved, one that gives Thraxas the key to the case as soon as he hears it. That it lies in what he overhears a talking pig say means only that there’s more to the world than either you or I are apt to ever become aware of.

   And there’s more to come!

— August 2003

      The Thraxas novels —

   UK editions:

Thraxas. April 1999.
Thraxas and the Warrior Monks. May 1999.
Thraxas at the Races. June 1999.
Thraxas and the Elvish Isles. August 2000.
Thraxas and the Sorcerers. November 2001.
Thraxas and the Dance of Death. May 2002.
Thraxas at War. July 2003.
Thraxas under Siege. May 2005.

   Baen omnibus editions (US):

Thraxas. September 2003:    Contains Thraxas and Thraxas and the Warrior Monks.
Death and Thraxas. August 2004:    Contains Thraxas at the Races and Thraxas and the Elvish Isles.

   Baen single novel editions (US):

Thraxas and the Sorcerers. June 2005.
Thraxas at War. February 2006.
Thraxas and the Dance of Death. July 2007.
Thraxas under Siege. August 2008