This is the first book in a series and IMO, it is the weakest of the three. That said, this is a charming fantasy that introduces really entertaining ..Show More »and endearing characters and a really interesting system of magic. Because of that, and because I wouldn't want a first novel to turn people off of the series as a whole (which gets better and better with each book) I am still giving the story four stars for this review.
Basically everything is the world is imbued with a certain amount of 'spirit' or self-awareness and power. Most little spirits are asleep most of the time and owe a sort of allegiance to greater spirits who correspond to different elements such as Air/Winds, Earth/Mountains, Water/Rivers, Fire/Volcanoes, etc.
There are wizards who make deals to align with certain spirits to carry them around in rings on their fingers, making friendships and trading their protection for the ability to call on the spirits' powers when needed. These 'Spiritualists' also protect the spirit world and try to make sure that the spirits aren't being misused or taken advantage of.
Into this comes a Thief, Eli Monpress, who is determained to have the highest bounty ever taken placed on his head. He has a secret ability that helps him in his work that is explained during the book and is basically your charming rogue character- but he is REALLY charming and fun to listen to.
He travels with a swordsman who carries an 'awakened blade'- a self- aware sword that is unstoppable when it is in tune with its wielder. The swordsman, Johan, also has a mysterious young girl as a companion. She wears a huge magical coat and and manacles.
A young Spiritualist, Miranda Lyonette, who is talented and takes her work VERY seriously, is dispatched when the Spiritualist Court learns that Monpress has kidnapped the king of a country that doesn't even believe in magic. She rides off on her companion Ghosthound Gin (think sort of like the dragon in the Neverending Story- you totally want one, you know you do!) and they ride off to apprehend Monpress.
But things are much worse than either group bargains for and the Thief and the Spiritualist end up forming an uneasy alliance. One thing I particularly enjoyed is that the author stays away from any cliched romance and really is interested in developing each character as a person.
When you throw in things like an all-powerful demon trapped under a mountain, a mercurial Lady who seems to be the mystical protector of the world with an unhealthy interest in Eli Monpress, an eerie 'League of Storms' who have the job of hunting down smaller demon seeds which have escaped into the world, a bunch of panicked and mostly useless courtiers and a resourceful librarian- this story goes from action to farce to magic to combat and back very comfortably and I had a fun time following it.
I like heavy-duty real, gritty, violent fantasy very much. But after some George RR Martin or Joe Abercrombie, these books are really refreshing! Well written and the characters and world only get more interesting as the books go on. These are clever, and the combat scenes, while less gory than the authors I just mentioned, are well thought out and suspenseful. I've read all the books so far in the series and will be getting the others from Audible too. My 12 year old son is listening to this book now and also really enjoying it.
The duke is an awesome bad guy!!! The story is good, I liked how you learned a little more about Eli's past. Josef rocks! This is a great second bo..Show More »ok. I will for sure be listening to the next in the series.
The fourth in the series is out but not being offered in audiobook form. I love the characters in this series. Eli sort of takes a backseat in this ..Show More »installment. This book is primarily about Nico and her struggle with the demon seed and herself. You do learn a bit more about Eli's past. This is a great series and I hope that Audible will soon have the 4th and the upcoming 5th book to offer members in the near future.
The seemingly one dimensional main characters still lets this series down. I had hope, because the secondary and side characters felt real, where as ..Show More »the single virtue embodiment of the main characters gets old. Maybe it's intentional, however, the lack of growth or adaptation lets it down in my opinion. Every situation is approached the same way by the same character. Despite the life treating consequences faced no one seems to learn anything. Now that I think about it, it is not the life altering battles that annoy me, it's the day to day description that loose it. A prince that can't act at least a little civilised and still be portrayed as a murdering bastered is I think what looses it for me. The author goes too far with the uncompromising state of each main character that you can no longer identify with them. A swordsman who has the determination and dedication to be the best surely would learn in the process of fighting a few skills he could apply to life.