"Two Thieves"  
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Tales of Riverworld
Publisher Warner Books
Editor Philip José Farmer
Reprinted No
Collected No
Illustrator Don Ivan Punchatz
Series Riverworld
Genre(s) Science fiction
Publication date 1992
Preceded by "Blandings on Riverworld" by Phillip C. Jennings
Followed by "Fool's Paradise" by Ed Gorman

"Two Thieves" is a short story by Harry Turtledove published in Tales of Riverworld (Warner Books, 1992), a shared world anthology set in Philip José Farmer's Riverworld universe.

POV Alexios Komnenos, ruler of New Constantinople, enters into an alliance with Mayor Richard J. Daley of Shytown against the community of Bornu, ruled by Muslim Musa ar-Rahman. Both rulers fear that they will turn on each other once Bornu is defeated. As set forth by Farmer's works, all of the characters are people who lived and died on Earth, but were resurrected with a physical age of 25 on Riverworld. This gives Turtledove the chance to introduce a Byzantine character, making use of his considerable knowledge of and affinity for that historical setting.

The title directly refers to Alexios and Daley; Daley declares that one horse thief (himself) can spot another (Alexios). In the end, Alexios proves the craftier thief.

Connections to other Riverworld works[]

In Phillip C. Jennings' "Blandings on Riverworld," which directly precedes Turtledove's story in Tales of Riverworld, the character P.G. Wodehouse includes "Emperor Alexius" in a list of currently active rulers on the planet.[1] Later in the same volume, John Gregory Betancourt's "The Merry Men of Riverworld" takes place in New Chicago, ruled by the iron fist of Al Capone. Despite the shared themes of 20th-century Chicago, there is no character overlap with "Two Thieves".


  1. Tales of Riverworld, p. 145.