Science fiction and fantasy
Thief of Lives
by Barb and J. C. Hendee
Dhampir, Miiska is on its knees as people go hungry and workers go without jobs. It is desperate for money to rebuild. Fortunately this is exactly what the council of Bela are offering in exchange for a little vampire slaying.
Magiere isn't all that keen to take up her falchion again. But it appears that she's being manipulated on more than one front, and it seems as though there is no choice. Nor is she the only one being schemed against.
Another group of undead has formed, sired by a small and faintly familiar grubby-looking vampire calling himself Toret. His beloved Sapphire is a young, hedonistic undead with whorish tastes and a vicious streak. Chane, on the other hand, is a smart young noble with an interest in magic and a little more soul than the others. He resents being compelled to spend his fortune for his master's benefit. Our sympathies may lie with Magiere and Leesil, but the Noble Dead in this book are not merely heartless killers.
Thief of Lives has elements of a detective story to it, as the hunters try to piece together events and track the killers. Bela is large and they would get nowhere without Chap, their hound, to help them track. Chap can battle vampires, heal rapidly, and has astonishing intelligence at times. There's as much mystery about the dog as there is about most of the human characters.
The relationship between Magiere and Leesil continues to develop, and there are hints of a romance between Chane and Wynn, as well as an attachment between Toret and Sapphire. What these all have in common is a certain coyness and reserve. They are unusually chaste and tame relationships by the standards of our time. It doesn't get much beyond smouldering looks and occasional kisses, which is a little unexpected considering the central role of the bond between Magiere and Leesil. This will please readers who prefer something that's clean and free of smut.
Thief of Lives is an energetic sequel to Dhampir, adding new layers to the main character's stories and introducing some intriguing new mysteries. In many ways it's a straightforward fantasy world, yet the people in it tend to be complex, rounded individuals. It's exciting, character-driving fantasy that's a splash of pure vampy escapism.
If you like this, try:The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
In the first episode of The First Law series some very different characters fight for truth, survival, or simply to look good.
Review © Ros Jackson
More about Barb and J C Hendee
Add your thoughtsAll comments are pre-moderated. Please do not post spoilers or abusive language.