Book review: The Spirit Thief, by Rachel Aaron
Eli Monpress is the greatest and most infamous thief in the world. At least, that’s his ambition. The bigger the theft, the higher the bounty on his wanted poster – and what could be higher profile than stealing a king? Unfortunately the kidnapped king’s absence leaves a power vacuum in the wizard-hating kingdom of Mellinor and sets off a chain of events that even Eli’s charm can’t easily get him out of.
I confess that I started reading this book under the misapprehension that it was YA – I’m not sure why, maybe the lovely new cover art for the omnibus edition (right)? However it took me some time to realise my mistake, perhaps because between the “clean rating” (no swearing or sex, very little violence), the girl mage who rides a giant telepathic wolf, and the wryly humorous style, it reminded me of a cross between The Princess Bride and an intelligent Disney cartoon. Of course the fact that the previous book I read was The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan probably made the contrast even more striking! At any rate, this is one of those books that is likely to appeal to – and be suitable for – a wide age range of readers, from young teens upwards.
Towards the end it becomes somewhat darker, as Eli confronts a particularly nasty wizard bent on taking over the kingdom, and I’m told that later books continue in this vein (I have the omnibus edition, so I’ll no doubt be reading them at some point). However the overall flavour is definitely slanted towards the light, epitomised by master swordsman Joseph, who walks around covered in unfeasibly large amounts of edged steel but is really only interested in fighting opponents worthy of his skill.
If you’re not keen on the “gritty” type of epic/adventure fantasy, or just want a break from all the raping and pillaging, I heartily recommend you check out this book. Eli’s reputation depends on it!