Friday, September 7, 2012

On Wizardry: A Review of The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1)I bought this book on sale forever ago, and it's sat in my TBR for probably over a year (many books do). I finally pulled it out this month at random. This is an obscure book, even by my standards. I haven't seen it reviewed or discussed much, and that's a shame, because I personally found it amusing.

What we have here is an epic fantasy setting, humorous characters, and a campy tone. Eli Monpress is a thief who wants to increase the bounty on his head. He does so by stealing increasingly high profile things, and ultimately, in this book, he steals a king. Eli is a wizard, with abilities unlike any other. But the man who takes over the kingdom after the king is stolen is yet another kind of wizard--the most dark and evil kind of all. With a team that includes a swordsman, a demonseed, and an uppity Spiritualist, Eli fights to get his due and save the kingdom.

Positive Comments

It's refreshingly light-hearted. I think if you were to read this with a 100% serious mind, you'd be disappointed. You need to read it with an eye for satire and whimsy, and I promise it will make you smile at least a little.

I really enjoyed the characters. Eli, with his enthusiasm for high stakes plans, his sense of mischief, and his charming manners, was a fun protagonist. Josef, the swordman, is surly and totally focused on his craft. Nico is mysterious and frightening. I loved the group dynamics, and that helped me to get invested in their individual stories and goals.

I found the plot serviceable. I really liked the idea of spirits that reside in everything, and of wizards using those spirits for their own purposes. I was less concerned with the evil wizard/king plot, but I didn't find it boring.

Critical Comments

It never quite achieves the scale or depth that you typically find in this genre. It loses it's "epicness" amidst the whimsy. That lowers the stakes and keeps the reader from ever becoming truly concerned with outcomes. I think that's why I found the plot only serviceable, rather than extraordinary.


For those who like The Princess Bride and things of that nature, where a fantasy setting clashes with a comedic tone. For those of you who like Robinhood, loveable scoundrel type heroes. For anyone looking for a different kind of fantasy novel, I recommend this book. 4 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yay! I'm pretty sure this isomers my shelf. I think I got it when Borders was closing for 80% off. Its been sitting on the back of a shelf and I wasn't sure if I would ever get to it. But your review has me wanting to pick it up right now! It sounds exactly like something I would love!


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