Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
Orbit: November 23, 2011
Source: Free From Library
Theft of Swords is a pretty traditional fantasy read. There’s adventures and sword fights and a dash of magic thrown in for good measure. If you enjoy more descriptive works in the fantasy genre Theft of Swords is likely to appeal. For those who appreciate a greater depth of characterization, you may want to approach with caution.
Royce Melborn, a mysterious master thief, and his equally enigmatic mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, have been contracted to steal a sword. Unfortunately the theft does not go as planned and the duo are implicated in the murder of the king. So, naturally, they kidnap the new king, with the help of the new king’s sister. Politics, they just got more exciting. The plot of Theft of Swords kicks off early and the author maintains the pace with interconnected events. After doing some digging about this series I realized that Theft of Swords was originally self-published in installments. For me, the original publication schedule was evident in the disjointed separations of the book making for an overly lengthy reading experience. There is also a lot of emphasis on the description of the surroundings and the actions of characters – again, this isn’t my thing so I wasn’t always engrossed in reading to the point that I couldn’t walk away from it for a few days.
What originally drew me to Theft of Swords was the characters. A thief and a mercenary go on adventures? Um, yes please. Of course, my expectation was that I would get to delve into the minds of these characters. But after reading 600 pages, I have to confess that I don’t particularly feel like I “know” the characters. Both Royce and Hadrian remain as mysterious and unknowable as they did at the beginning of the book. While tidbits about each character are sprinkled throughout, I never really escaped the feeling that both characters were kind of empty. Yes, there were some flashes of humour from Royce and Hadrian but by and large they remain a mystery to me. Instead, the secondary characters of the princess, new king and other characters our heroes meet along the way seem to be more fleshed out than the supposed main characters. That said, I also recognize that this is the first in a trilogy and there are also prequel novels that focus on the characters, so this could explain some of the distance I felt when it came to the main characters. Take my thoughts with a grain of salt.
Theft of Swords certainly wasn’t my favourite fantasy read, but it was one that I felt had some potential if the characters are further explored. The world and the political plot that goes along with it are also intriguing enough to make me want to read the second book. So, if you’re looking for a more descriptive fantasy read, Theft of Swords just might be for you.
Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names
is a fantasy that I highly recommend and I think it creates a common ground in the descriptive emphasis without compromising on it’s characters. Each book in the series has only become better than the first.
Swords and Scoundrels would be my second recommendation as a follow-up to Theft of Swords. Like Theft of Swords, Julia Knight keeps her focus on the action and adventure of her characters rather than their emotional complexity. If you were a fan of the descriptive nature of Theft of Swords, Knight’s fantasy will appeal to you.