Title: Honor among Thieves
Series: Ancient Blades (#3)
Publisher: HarperCollins (2011)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review purposes.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“When allies become enemies, to whom can a clever thief turn?Armed with one of seven Ancient Blades, Malden was chosen by Fate to act as savior . . . and failed dismally. And now there is no stopping the barbarian hordes from invading and pillaging the kingdom of Skrae. Suddenly friends and former supporters alike covet the young hero’s magic while seeking his destruction—from the treacherous King and leaders of the City of Ness to the rogue knight Croy, who owes Malden his life.It will take more than Malden’s makeshift army of harlots and cutpurses to preserve a realm. Luckily the sorceress Cythera fights at his side, along with the ingenious, irascible dwarf Slag. And the wily thief still has a desperate and daring plan or two up his larcenous sleeve . . .” GoodReads’ blurb
Remember when I reviewed A Thief in the Night and, at the very end, said that it could either go awesomely good or stay cool? Well, here’s the answer!
At the end of book two, we were left with two major unfinished business: on the one hand, a whole mountain has collapsed, and in doing so, it has opened up a pass nearly a mile wide for a bloodthirsty army to cross into the kingdom of Scrae. On the other hand, a race that everyone thought had been killed to extinction resulted to be alive and returning to the world of the living, and along with them the knowledge that the basis of Scrae culture, even religion, could be shaky at best.
The potential offered by the exploration of the second option was vast, I’m sure you’ll agree: how do the elves fit into a world that has hated their forgotten race for generations? How would the humans react if they learned that their righteousness was unjustified? If they learned that their precious, precious Lady was an elf they deified in a perfect example of idolatry? How would the dwarves face their treacherous past? Would the races find a way to make amends and move forward, or will it be war and genocide?
The first option offered a suitably epic campaign, tons of action, and a chance for the people of Scrae to be the good guys without confronting their past, so... Yeah. The novel pretty much goes with the first option and forgets all about the elves, except for a paragraph at the beginning where it’s explained that they have moved to a forest and are living there quite happily.
That’s what makes Honor Among Thieves a great read, a thrilling epic fantasy, but just not the groundbreaking piece of work it could have been.
All that said, though, I enjoyed the book and found it quite up to par with genre expectations. There’s plenty of action, a lot of feats, and the plot, whose details wont spoil than I already have, builds up nicely towards certain doom. I have to wonder, though, if this is the last book in the series because while doom is dealt with in a suitable way, there’s still room for more, and the ending was perfect to lead into a sequel.
Character-wise, Malden is still a charming rogue who tends to bite more than he can chew. He still gets turned into a hero in spite of his best efforts, but in the end he manages do to what sits right with himself. The most enjoyable character by far, you’d be amazed at the way he escapes trouble by the seat of his pants and still saves the day.
Sir Croy is still a knight in shining armor, through and through. We see his most military side, and I’m thinking that it should have been grimmer, or more determined, or something... The truth is that the author did everything right, but I just couldn’t like the character. He didn’t have that bite to him that makes them memorable. The fact that I didn’t like how or where he ended up, socially speaking, by the end of the novel didn’t help. Granted, though, I got my wish and saw his face when he learned that his betrothed had been cuckolding him with Malden. From what I had seen of him, I expected the betrayal to devastate him, but instead it gave him a nice extra rush that allowed him to improve his fighting. Okay, believable.
The way said treacherous betrothed finds a middle ground, and all hearts end up broken instead of just one, wasn’t that believable. Or rather, it was, but I’d have preferred to have more of a build-up. Let me explain: through the books, we see an appearance of magical abilities in her. First book, she can absorb curses. Second one, can absorb, hold, and redirect them. Third one, she can do magic. I’d have loved a bit of transition between those three states. And because the magic was the middle road, well, I wasn’t too happy, I guess.
But that’s just me and my need for complex relationships. As I stated, Honor Among Thieves is great as an old school epic fantasy, and if you like the genre, you’ll like this one.