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5.0 out of 5 starsFinally a hero that are not paper thin!
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2016
Wow, I'm really impressed. Great writing, interesting story, believable characters. I'm so sick of fantasy where the logic lying behind the characters actions is not logical at all. The worst is when characters jump to conclusions after really flawed reasoning, being right all the time seemingly by pure luck. In this book the plot and the story line is superbly planned. There is no "my hero is in dager, let us pull some new skills out of the bag" moments, what he can and can't do is planned ahed making the story so much more "realistic". the main character is pretty normal, has no exceptional skills other than a fast mind and good night vision. There is no instances of the main character being an unbelievable genius besting the other characters by being 5 steps ahed, making ridiculous far reaching plans. This is a regular guy falling into situation after situation stumbling along. I love this story and can't wait to start the next one!
So much fun. I was looking for a light, fun read, and this book delivered along with so much more than I was expecting.
It’s basically about Drothe, a Nose (information gatherer) for a crime boss, who in his attempt to get a relic ends up entangled in business that’s way above his pay grade, and ultimately puts him in the middle of a power struggle.
What I found so interesting about this book was how detailed Hulick got with the Kin (criminal organizations). He threw out a bunch of terms I wasn’t familiar with, but he did so with such talent that I had no trouble following along. The world is interesting enough for me. We got an emperor and some organizations that are loyal to him, as well as some that you’re not sure where they fall. Then you have all the intricacies of a crime world woven in. It’s insanely fun. Drothe isn’t a thief, which is what I went into this book thinking. However, I wasn’t disappointed. It has a bit of rebellion that I like in my thief books, just done differently. While we never stepped foot outside the city, inside gave us new worlds based simply on the neighborhood you visited. It fulfilled that little questing in me, meaning the scenery wasn’t the same throughout. Loved that.
Now, Drothe is a fantastic character. He’s got morals for a criminal, but not the ones you’d think. He’ll torture or kill you, but he keeps his word and is loyal. It makes him incredibly likable. He also has a great friendship with Bronze Degan (the muscle), who I thought wasn’t as developed, but was a great sidekick. Their banter is great and the ease of their friendship believable. There’s some hints about some not so fun stuff Drothe has been through, and I get the feeling a lot more will be explored in later books.
The writing is excellent. It’s got some incredible fight scenes that were easy to follow, and I love the pacing. I’m actually surprised this doesn’t have more attention. Although it wasn’t some crazy, complicated, a hundred character monster, it was highly entertaining, fast, and the plot clever but not overly cumbersome. I really enjoyed it.
So with me loving this series, I was devastated to learn that book 3 is not published, and by the information I can find, it never will be. I had already bought the second one, and now I’m not sure I can read it without knowing if they’ll be too much left unanswered. Such a shame, because this really was delightful.
So overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys fantasy. I can say it wraps up well enough that one could read this and be marginally satisfied. But be warned that there are a few threads left open.
3.0 out of 5 starsHow can the Emperor control an Empire but not his own capitol city?
Reviewed in the United States on April 8, 2015
I won't say it's a bad story, just that it didn't do the trick for me. Several aspects of the story, primarily the main characters, were interesting if not actually appealing, but several other aspects, specifically the 'world building' or environmental aspects left me shaking my head more than once.
"The Kin" is the group identity of all the 'underworld' people within this city, the capital of the empire. Thieves, thugs, assassins, pickpockets, what have you ... the criminal underground if you will. Except that they don't seem to be very much underground. They seem to somehow encompass a near majority of all people in the city since we don't meet or see more than a couple / few "straights" throughout the entire book. How does a criminal underground work without a huge populace of straights / civilians upon whom they must prey to make their criminal livings? With so many criminals (without ever explicitly calling out numbers, we definitely get the feel that The Kin are thousands strong) how do they keep going when there doesn't seem to be sufficient non-criminal civilians to support them? The city is divided into multiple zones called 'cordons' and each cordon has multiple levels and units of criminal organizations in competition with each other beyond the basic aspect of requiring a supporting population. There are bosses and Upright Men and Princes ... and over and outside of all this is the Emperor's forces who I guess act as de facto police since there does not seem to be any kind of city watch in this place. If the Emperor is so powerful (he controls an EMPIRE) how the heck does he obviously and clearly not control his own capital city? It simply does not make sense ... the world-building aspect of this story utterly failed for me on this key point. So many powerful criminals, criminal organizations, including wizards / magic users ... and there's no logic to how they could even begin to exist in the manner that they do. The story makes much effort to point out how powerful the Emperor is, that he has so many powerful forces at his disposal, that The Kin are wary of, though not necessarily frightened by, his forces, that he controls an entire Empire ... but he apparently has virtually no actual control over his own capital city because the criminal elements (who are the protagonists of this story) never fail to engage in criminal activity (murder, mayhem, arson, etc.) when and where they want, nor do they actually worry about any kind of legal repercussions for their actions. They really only fear other competing Kin (criminals). Does not scan.
Edit: accidentally gave this 2 stars when I meant to give it 3 stars ... now corrected. It's a decently written book but it just didn't jell for me. Others may like it just fine based on the character development, or if you like your fantasy stories focused on thieves / underground characters.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood enough to come back for seconds
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 21, 2014
Douglas Hulick’s Among Thieves is one of those books that seem two a penny lately. It’s set against the backdrop of a city underworld with a thief as its main character. The cover features man with his face in the shadows and his blade out. The only thing missing is the hooded cloak to finish off the outfit. This isn’t just another run of the mill book about thieves though, its story has enough about it to draw you in and it’s well written and well enough paced to keep the pages turning. This is a good start to the series and I look forward to reading more.
The main character is Drothe, a thief with more than a little Locke Lamora about him – he’s a resourceful rogue with just the right combination of charm and guile to wriggle out of the tightest situation, and just the right combination of curiosity and bad luck to get in to them in the first place. Along with his trusty sidekick Degan, Drothe ducks and weaves his way from one near disaster to another, eventually finding himself to be a major player in a changing criminal underworld, whether he likes it or not.
What a great debut this was! Sharp, unpredictable, witty and very exciting. I very much enjoyed it, it put me in mind of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series without quite attaining that sort of dizzy height (yet) But I am very hopeful of future books in this series and have added the second, due out in June, to my wish list!
I won't give a plot synopsis because I am not sure I could. But this is pretty much what you expect from the cover, a fantasy crimelord type book where the top Don's wield magic rather than tommy guns.
I maybe would have wanted a few pauses in action where the author paints his background canvas a little more vividly and perhaps a bit more space for side characters to blossom. But that said I did enjoy the breathless relentlessness of the story too.
The author has left plenty of scope and untidied threads to pick up in the next book which I won't go into here.
In summary an excellent little adventure that I think lovers of the afore mentioned Lynch (may he get over his deppression soon) and perhaps early Abercrombie's will likewise enjoy. Top stuff and very nearly 5 stars.
I've been reading a lot of great debuts lately and Among Thieves is definitely one of the top ones. Hulick applies his love of fencing and medieval history to create a convincing criminal underworld filled with rich history, action and excitement.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Drothe - a nose, a person responsible for sniffing out information for the crime boss. What started out as a simple job to find the missing Imperial relic quickly spiralled out of control, as Drothe finds himself caught in an all-out gang war backed by the mysterious Gray Princes and a plot that will destory everthing around him. Now Drothe and his sworn partner Degan must do everything they can to correct the mess in the criminal infested cordon known as Ten Ways.
It's been a while since I've read a story told from the first person and it took a little while to get used to. However within the next few chapters I already found myself loving Drothe's voice and completely immersed in the world Hulick created. I couldn't put this book down even though I was supposed to read this over a period of a month for the Fantasy Faction bookclub.
There really isn't anything bad I can say about this book. The story is fast paced and full of energy, as evident in the wild chases across Ten Ways and the thrilling fight scenes. The interaction between Drothe and Degan gives us more insight into why Drothe is the way he is and greatly adds to the story. Also the relationship Drothe has with his sister serves as the much needed comic relief in this otherwise action orientated book.
I personally think that there is much more to the Gray Princes than what Hulick has already told us in the book and I really can't wait to be proved right or wrong in my theories.
This is a strong and well-rounded debut with everything that you would look for in an action-packed fantasy story. Look forward to the sequel, Sworn in Steel out in April 2012.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 25, 2012
I must admit the first few pages did have me wondering whether or not I was going to like this book. But literally get past the first 5 pages, learn the names and you're good to go. Douglas Hulick has produced a superb debut novel and I'm not ashamed to say I am impatiently awaiting the next installment. I have the kindle version and the paperback - that's how much i love it!
The story follows Drothe, a fairly smart but not the toughest criminal out there, who relies on his abilities as 'Nose' to get him through life. In what I'd say is a fairly medieval world, he seeks to prevent what is easiest to describe as a civil war in a looked down upon community to prevent the collapse of his work/life (These are the same thing to Drothe). There are - without spoiling the story - higher forces involved, many levels of thieves, assasins, organisations of thieves and their leaders, lords and imperial 'sashes' etc, and only a select few know what is actually being fought over; a mysterious book that has some mysterious power. Drothe comes across this book, and for those who know of the books existence and have some idea of what is within it, Drothe is now at the center of their attentions.
The story has many twists, there are a couple of rare but tentative friendships formed between Drothe and other characters that keep the story juicy and interesting. Told exclusively through Drothes eyes, this book appealed to me massively as I cannot STAND books that constantly flit between characters. Though this is the case, the story is so interesting, brilliantly paced and well told it doesn't matter, and there is a good deal of humor in there as well, the timing of which is done outstandingly well.
Magic is incorporated into the story well and is not overpowering, fighting is described fluidly, characters have depth and you become drawn to them quickly. As the story progresses you begin to back Drothe more and more, and I cannot wait for the rest of this series. It cannot come fast enough!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2013
The world of books (and especially fantasy fiction it seems) is full of new authors trying to get our faithful attention. Like many readers, I need to read as much as I need to drink water to stay alive - it's a life-long passion. So what a pleasure it has been to encounter a story that while certainly of a genre, still has a fresh feel.
A very engaging story. I don't provide reviews on all the books I buy and I _very_ rarely give 5 stars (for books), however this story was good enough (once I'd finished!) to get me out of my early Sunday morning bed and write this.
I am very much looking forward to the next volume (apparently being released this summer).