Science fiction and fantasy
by David Tallerman
Easie is travelling with the former mayor Estrada, and Guard Captain Alvantes. Alvantes holds the thief in disdain, and their dislike is mutual. But circumstances force them to travel together as Alvantes journeys to give the king the bad news about his failures. The further they travel, the more their sense of unease grows about what has become of the country. The party diminishes in size as people and giants break off to take care of their own affairs, but neither Damasco nor Alvantes can let people go without feeling guilty or anxious about them.
Easie is troubled by his conscience. Mostly he's troubled by the discovery he has one at all, but he's gradually changing. His antagonistic relationships with just about everyone else mellow as he develops something approaching a heart, and there's a lot of humour in how reluctant he is to undergo this transformation. His recklessness and cheek remain intact, though, so the story is a thrill ride of daring escapes, sneaking around in tight spots, and seat-of-the-pants improvisations. I particularly liked the vivid descriptions as seen through Easie's eyes, such as when he is crawling through a vile sewer.
The story is big on dramatic irony, because Damasco thinks he knows the score but he often misses the things the other characters are aware of. Yet double-dealing and changes of allegiance are frequent in his world, so there's a lot of intrigue and excitement for readers to get stuck into. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, which left me itching to read more in the sequel, Prince Thief. Damasco is the kind of vivacious, irreverent character who will steal your affections, and any book with him in it is too short.
23rd December 2012
Review © Ros Jackson
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