Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick – Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews Among Thieves, the first in the Tales of the Kin series, published by Tor Books.
“Watch out, fantasy authors. There’s a new star in the genre.”
Although I read Among Thieves back in April this year, I never got the chance to review it, mainly due to the fact that I was distracted by a wealth of other novels. But, I’ve finally got the chance to sneak in a re-read, and here’s the review.
I remember buying Among Thieves without even looking at the blurb. That was probably foolish of me, but I just loved the cover art. I don’t know about you, but I think the UK one is far, far better than the US one this time around. The US one looks like some sort of romantic novel, whereas the UK one makes out Drothe, the main character, to be as almost as badass looking as Ezio Auditore, from the Assassin’s Creed series. Yes, I’m a fan.
And to tell you the truth, Among Thieves did remind me of Assassin’s Creed. But, we’ll go into that later. Here’s the rough plot, and once I did look at it, I could tell that Among Thieves would be good.
Drothe has the rank of a Nose, which means that it’s his job, to find out and take care of any trouble inside the criminal organisation that he’s part of. Oh yes, and he’s a smuggler, who brings in Important relics.
When ordered to go to Ten Ways and discover who’s been closing the jaw on his organization’s people, Drothe stumbles across a much bigger mystery, and soon works out that somebody is trying to cause trouble, deliberately, between smaller criminal organizations such as Drothe’s one.
And, to top things all off, Drothe has an ancient book in his possession. A book that can dethrone emperors, wipe out the criminal underworld. A book that people would kill to call it their own…
Among Thieves is 432 pages long, in other words, a pretty average size. But it’s one of those books that you’ll enjoy, especially once you get used to what’s going on, which I admit, the lack of information of the world got me lost at first. Told in first person, Among Thieves allows you to take a plunge into Hulick’s world through the eyes of the thief Drothe, who – for a criminal, is a very likeable one indeed. Although I haven’t read many first-person fantasy novels, I rather enjoyed Drothe’s viewpoint on the world.
Normally, Drothe would be considered an anti-hero in Among Thieves, but for the fact that he has honour, and cares more about the wellbeing of others than himself, but this also has a downside –and, as it says somewhere on the UK edition of Among Thieves, Honour can get you killed.
Full of mystery, plot-twists that aren’t predictable and a fast-paced rollercoaster ride, Among Thieves is clearly one of the stronger fantasy debuts that I’ve read, this year and perhaps in the world. (I understand I’m a bit late to the party, with the original release date being back at the start of April).
With an ending that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, which has the title of Sworn in Steel, I am highly anticipating the release of the aforementioned book.
Among Thieves throws you right into the action from the very beginning, and from there onwards, the action only continues, written very, very well in first person, and indeed – once you get past all the confusing stuff at the beginning and actually understand what’s going on, you really get do get to know the history about this world, which Hulick has created for us to enjoy, and put Drothe right in the middle of all the gritty, dark and intense scenes that go on all around him.
Top notch stuff. You should really, really buy this book, and I’m certainly not joking when I say that. I don’t think I’ve seen a negative review for Among Thieves at all, and indeed – I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel is the best debut fantasy book of 2011.
Character-depth is found in all of the characters here, and none of them seem unlikable and dull, making Among Thieves highly enjoyable. Right, with that out of the way… Bring on Sworn in Steel! I have high anticipations for the sequel, and I hope that I won’t be let down.
More Tales of the Kin: Among Thieves, Sworn in Steel (Currently unreleased)