Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thief's Life

   With Thief's Covenant Ari Marmell joins the ranks of established authors entering the YA market; this sword and sorcery adventure novel following the life of a young female thief in a Renaissance like era city could easily sit beside the rougher adventures written by Brent Weeks, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch and  Richard Morgan.  The world  Widdershins inhabits is one of many gods, political and social intrigues  schemers, backstabbers, social climbers fools fops and thugs; much like one one outside our windows the numerous often meddeling household gods  aside . The tale is told in Terrintinoesque out of order fashion building the characters and setting slowly maintaining tension with breaking scenes to jump ahead or back at just the best moment to keep you wanting more. Multiple viewpoints are head from mainly Widdershins, sometimes Adrianne, sometimes Madaline, all the time wry witty and headstrong but we get her friends, acquaintances, antagonists and the occasional newcomers point of view too. The nove is a spare 280 pages in length and they pretty much fly by because it's kind of hard to put down once you start.

     Though Thief's Covenant is being marketed at the YA market even being printed in a pretty handsome hardcover edition it lacks nothing for grit, action and complexity standing well with the Nighangel and
First Law books etc I mentioned above.  Ari's book is like them  in all the ways that make sword and sorcery stories among my favorites; the characters drive the story along and are not driven by the plot itself; Widdershins is put in many situations where other people including friends try to get her to do or in many cases not do what she sees as the best course. She is smart and canny enough to know following her intuition is going to be best for her and has a strong sense of right and wrong though it is a pretty personal one at times.  Like Brent Week's Kylar she is someone who has had a hard and violent life coming up as an orphan and though we see less of her past then his Ari includes enough  hints and details to let you know her childhood was not an easy one. Through some of the "x" years ago chapters he fills in chapters in her story where she witnesses and causes some deaths and losses that form who she is in the now and to come chapters. Like the so called adult stories there is trash and garbage and more filling the ally's of her city of Davilon there are viscous thugs and nameless or in this case named cults that consort with unclen things; there is some onscreen blood and gore with mostly only the swearing used by others abscent.  

        Ari tells Widdershins tale out of chronological order effectively starting where her personal god Orgun becomes a dirty with a single worshiper. That scene happens in the first chapter which is set in her recent past and then proceeds to jump from past to present and beck building both impression of characters and the world. The way her builds temsion with foreshadowing and backshadowing effectively kept me in the story wether the viewpoint  was any of the aliases his protagonist uses or if it happened to be any of his other interesting cast of characters. They people he populated his tale with are all a little recognisable types but they never feel stale or one-sided no matter how short their lives may actually end up being. He leaves lots of clues around to figure out who is doing what eventhough for his heroine it's pretty much a mystery and she even jumps to some wrong but useful and fun conclusions in the corse of the story.

     I would happily recommend this to readers of fantasy adventure fiction with no reservations... it appealed to the young role playing gamer in me that is still dying to play in a setting and with characters that are are multi-layered and real as he writes. I want more of her adventures to be honest and I hope he has got a good number of them up his writing sleeves..

I received my copy from PRY for review....
You can look up Ari Marmell at mouseferatu to check him out and see his other pretty cool novels.....


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