My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Review: Among Thieves

Among Thieves Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is in the Name … the story is about a band of thieves (anti-heroes), each with their own secrets and ambiguous moral stance, that team up for a heist against the most powerful man in their world. The story is awash with conflicts, both external and internal, and the main characters align with and betray each other as well as other parties … and the author does a good job at informing the reader as to the internal motivations that drive that.

The world building is interesting for the most part, but some of the word choices for people, places and things were a miss for me … they just didn’t quite connect, but at least they were fairly obvious in context (such as referring to the slums as “The Lottery”). The magic system of Adepts was a solid implementation of mental abilities (aka psionics … kinetics and sensory) that did not over power the plot and was fairly consistent throughout. The “seedy” part of the city was pretty generic through and a bit of a disappointment … you have the required gangs competing for control but no real sense of them outside of the typical tropes. Then you have the systemic corruption of power within the government/nobility that tries to help establish some empathy with the main character “thieves.” … the problem is that those characters are just not very relatable (interesting, yes, but definitely more caricature the believable).

The Team ...
  • You have a merc with a mysterious past and abilities almost inline with a Mary Sue … that gets explained a little as the story moves along. Props are due for evolving from what was fairly selfish character to one a little more altruistic by the end.
  • You have a young man with his own secret who is also on the run and has landed in the same ‘gang’ as a means to survive and stay hidden; you can guess how well that works right?
  • You have a mysterious “Northman” forger with his own conflicting agenda that may play a role in future installments
  • You have a smuggler captain who can sail a plank of wood with her small clothes as sails. …
  • You have a disgraced guardsman who compromises her integrity for a chance as redemption and the betrayal of a team member
  • You have a completely odious gang boss that for some reason isn’t top dog in the slums … but acts like he is and survives just fine thank you very much.

The Mark
  • The most power man in the world … who also happens to be the gatekeeper of virtually all magic (by controller access to practicing adepts).
  • An artifact used by the original gatekeeper to facilitate his rise to power

The Client
  • A King … who wants the power of the artifact to rule the world … but can’t be trusted to actually honor any deal? Yeah … they story really does hammer home the idea that you can’t trust anybody :-)
  • Each individual team member has their own, often conflicting, agenda … all hidden under an apparent motivation for cash … see above.
  • A competing gang boss that really is in it for the money … and just doesn’t see of doesn’t care about the danger of selling it to the above mentioned King.

Overall … it was a fun read that moves fairly well and I am looking forward to the next installment.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

# AmongThieves #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.