on Feb. 1, 2016 :
In my acting days, I learned the hard way that if you start with intense emotion or action, you have nowhere else to go but down. This is a truth for writing as well since all stories have a natural flow of “highs” and “lows”. Since this story started in the middle of a dangerous confrontation, what came next seemed to drag and meander. It’s such a shame, because the story is interesting and fairly well written.
The story eventually picked up again once Stoce (the main character) got to the castle. Mr. Taylor did a good job keeping this “castle crawl” interesting, slowly unfolding the nefarious conspiracy taking place during the main character’s visit. I didn’t like the occasional long-winded rants or information dumps by the conspirators, though.
Speaking of information dumps; I want to briefly mention that there is a glossary at the beginning of the book and endnotes (which probably should be a proper appendix) at the back. Personally, I’m not keen on those things. I want the author to work in the necessary information and translations. However, I know that I’m a minority when it comes to this aspect of the fantasy realm. So, for those who revel in these extras: this book has it :-)
I thoroughly enjoyed how Mr. Taylor casually worked magic into everyday life while keeping it unexpected and, at times, terrifying. Unlike high fantasy where you are awash with elves, dwarves, dragons, and other mythical creatures, this story has only mention of them. It was interesting to hear about them while still being firmly planted in an all-human environment.
Mr. Taylor also did a good job of making the different communities (and countries) different from each other, yet familiar in some ways – much like our world. Having these things pointed out from the main character’s observations and experiences was a nice touch.
Overall, it was a decent read; suspenseful and original, since we don’t often (ever?) see castle crawls and stories from a thief’s point of view.
(Note: I received a free copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review.)
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
on Dec. 17, 2011 :
I liked this book but I think it could be tighter. The first person narrative throughout the book becomes tiresome after a while, and it seems like 90 percent of the book is Stoce's internal dialog and lessons about thieving, intersperced with very occasional three-sentence dialogs and action - said action always being described in detail by Stoce's internal dialog, almost always by his homilies on details of the precise tricks of the trade.
I suggest the author consider revising, and having some chapters from other characters' viewpoints. I'd love to hear what's going on with Greaze from his point of view when he's out of Stoce's presence, rather than Stoce either guessing or telling us afterwards. It would be very interesting to know more about the paladin using him as the viewpoint character.
It would also be an improvement to find a way to have the thieving tricks - which are very interesting - described or implied rather than narrated.
Lois McMaster Bujold is a great example of mixing different viewpoint characters, especially in Komarr and A Civil Campaign.
I do like very much that the protagonist actually feels the effects of the various fights that he gets in, although my feeling while reading the last third of the book was that there was no way that he could expend all that energy based on eating a few biscuts here an there. Feed these two, for heaven's sake!
(reviewed 64 days after purchase)