Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Spirit Thief

I first saw Rachel Aaron's The Spirit Thief in a local book store and was intrigued by it. I love caper stories or books about thieves and that's exactly what The Spirit Thief appeared to be. Picking it up you see a big number 1 on the spine and the words The Legend of Eli Monpress. No! Not another bloody series! I'd already read a few pages and it intrigued me, so this was going to be a case of could my common sense override my desire? My mind was kind of made up the following month when the sequel to The Spirit Thief - The Spirit Rebellion appeared on the shelves, to be followed the next month by The Spirit Eater. I checked out the author's website and she set a few misconceptions people have had about her books to rights. It is not a trilogy, yes the monthly release schedule is very similar to what Orbit did with Brent Weeks Night Angel trilogy and Orbit are also Rachel Aaron's publisher, but there are 5 books in The Legend of Eli Monpress, and the 4th is due out in May of 2011, so I have no idea why they released the first 3 month after month. Secondly it's not Urban Fantasy, not sure who would think this from a look at the book, but there you have it, people are strange. Finally it is not Paranormal Romance, I can see where this happened, handsome, bad boy looking bloke on the cover, and while Ms Aaron said that there is romance in the book, it's not the focus. So what actually is The Spirit Thief? Well, aren't you lucky you've got me to answer that question?

Australian author Karen Miller recommends the book with these words on the front cover: 'The Spirit Thief is a delightfully giddy romp of a novel' Ms Miller is spot on. The Spirit Thief is a caper novel. It's anti-hero; master thief Eli Monpress, is along with his cohorts: swordsman Josef Liechten, bearer of the world's most powerful magic sword and the demonseed Nico, out for what he can get. Everyone thinks he's going to steal the most powerful magical artifact in the fairy tale kingdom of Mellinor, however he turns the tables on all and sundry by escaping the prison they've put him in and kidnapping King Henrith of Meliinor! What follows is a game of cross and doublecross, as the straight down the line Spiritualist Miranda with her ghosthound Gin, go after Monpress, his gang, and the kidnapped king. Henrith's dispossessed brother; Renaud, enters the fray and things really kick into high gear, add in a determined bounty hunter who desperately wants the blade carried by Josef, the unstable demon that lurks below Nico's surface, and things are ready to go off like fireworks on New Years Eve. I had a huge amount of fun when reading The Spirit Thief and the fact that there are 2 more already out there ready to read increases my enjoyment.

There's a lot of Locke Lamora in Eli, although the book itself doesn't have the same impact as Scott Lynch's stunning debut The Lies of Locke Lamora. In the makeup of Eli's small team there are echoes of The Princess Bride and the kingdom of Mellinor could have come straight out of the Happiest Place on Earth in Anaheim, California. Ghosthound Gin is a calming and sensible influence on the sometimes irrational Miranda and they were 2 more characters I warmed to. There's an obvious attraction between the Spiritualist and the flamboyant wizard/thief, although Eli escapes at the end, you know this is not the last time the paths of these two will cross. I quite liked one of the peripheral characters; the inquisitive, eager to please, junior librarian Marion. I hope she makes an appearance in the sequels.

If you're looking for a fun, light romp and a name to watch for the future then you could do worse than to pick up Rachel Aaron's The Spirit Thief. An extremely promising debut.

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