I first noticed this novel when Tor was promoting it, and it looked like something I’d enjoy – I’ve been in a mood for lighter fantasy recently. So, for a change, I read something in the year it was published 😅
What to Expect
It’s not humorous fantasy (like say Myth Adventures), and in fact some scenes are rather dark. However, the overall tone is excellently balanced – not falling into funky tropes of either slapstick or overblown grimdark. The story is told in first person by a Kinch, a thief and a rascal but not a degenerate. After choosing the wrong victim to rob, Kinch gets drawn against his will into adventures well outside his usual wont. From there the plot progresses quickly, with many a twist and fantastic magic – from assassins to cats, from goblins to whales.
What I liked
Absolutely loved the world-building: the different societies, cultures, languages, and mythology – all feeling borrowed from our own history for an excellent mix of tantalisingly familiar and yet new. Add an interesting magic system, wars with non-human races, and continent worth of politics and trekking, and you got yourself a very respectable epic quest.
The characters too, are well drawn. Kinch is a relatable fellow, as are the supporting cast. Though told from a male point of view, the world itself and the story are built around strong women in an interesting way (most men between 20 and 60 have died in previous wars with the goblins — it’s the women who won the final round).
What to be aware of
This is a good example of of modern light fantasy – occasionally dark, sometime crude, fast paced, and generally just a good story to pass the time. The story is self-contained, but there are clear indications towards the end that it is part of a larger series.
Felix certainly enjoyed the story and the character of Kinch. While he finds the concept of thieves guild problematic (and politics are pretty much organised crime anyway), it was at least a well-executed, fresh take on the subject. He’d like to learn more about the magic the Kinch uses for his tricks, but mostly Felix would like to learn that card game, Towers. He feels there are good opportunities for him there.
A very enjoyable read, entertaining and not taxing.
Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.