Science fiction and fantasy
by David Tallerman
Moaradrid follows Easie like a man possessed, chasing him up and down the country with his soldiers. The thief races from frying pan to fire to frying pan, pausing only to filch whatever takes his fancy or maybe to stuff his face. He's a skinny rogue, but somehow he always seems to be hungry. He's a magnet for trouble, and quite a contrast to the peace-loving giant Saltlick. Easie thinks Saltlick is a stupid brute because he barely talks and he has very rigid beliefs about leadership, but there are hints that there's more to him than meets the eye. Similarly the harried Estrada seems to have a thing or two up her sleeve, whilst Mounteban's transformation from career criminal to apparent hero of the dwindling band of resistance fighters raises questions about his real motives.
Giant Thief is largely plotted around a long chase, but it's spiced up by lots of varied scenery including dens of iniquity, an exotic foreign court, and hair-raising climbs. Easie's adventures are fast-paced and enjoyable, as befits a gambler with a past that always threatens to catch up with him. In some ways he's a stock fantasy character, the incorrigible thief and rogue, but he remains fun and interesting because it's hard to predict what he'll do next. Even when he's extremely repentant about his actions and vows to change we don't quite believe he's sincere, but there's always a shred of doubt. That's why he's a compelling character.
The dialogue also sparkles with wit as the antagonistic characters lay into one another verbally as well as sometimes physically. I wouldn't call this novel a comedy, but it's certainly a feelgood fantasy with a light, cheeky tone. The giants put me in mind of the trolls in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, and the tone and setting of this book is reminiscent of Jessie Bullington's The Enterprise of Death.
Wherever Easie Damasco goes he leaves a trail of destruction and angry people eager to lynch him. Fortunately I felt just the opposite, and I hope this charming lawbreaker will be back for some sequels.
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