Tim Powers: On Stranger Tides, The Drawing of the Dark, The Anubis Gates
Protagonist: Hello. I'm a battle-scarred, middle-aged bachelor, and I'm going to save the world in a painstakingly researched setting using a combination of luck, wit and magic.
Antagonists: Okay, but first we get to beat the crap out of you, kill your friends and steal your women.
Protagonist: Well, shit. All right.
George Alec Effinger: When Gravity Fails
Marid Audran: I'm a low-life street thug in an unnamed, breathtakingly illustrated North African locale. But at least I have my freedom.
Friedlander Bey: Marid, your friends are all getting killed in nasty ways. I own this town. You're going to find out who's doing this and stop them. In return, I'll make you rich. Also, I'm going to take away your freedom.
Marid Audran: Dammit.
George Alec Effinger: A Fire in the Sun
Marid Audran: I solved the murders and I'm rich. I also lost my freedom. But at least I have my friends.
Marid Audran's friends: Piss off, sellout.
Friedlander Bey: All that remains is for me to make you into a properly devout Muslim.
Marid Audran: DAMMIT!
Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down
Four protagonists: Life sucks. Think I'll jump off this building. Wait, why are you here?
Desperate man: *jumps*
Four protagonists: On the other hand, anyone fancy a cup of tea?
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