The Spirit Thief
“Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king.”
Once in a while you happen along a particular book that just has it all: great characters, enjoyable storyline, good storytelling and above all, enough well placed humour that puts a smile on your face while you're reading. Rachel Aaron's The Spirit Thief is one such book.
I was looking for a book with thieves/rogues as the main character and I stumbled upon The Legend of Eli Monpress. My first impression was that the description of Eli was possibly a bit overdone, as he was portrayed as the greatest thief of his time AND also a wizard. However, early on in the story it becomes apparent that Eli does not indulge in boasting about his powers, yes, he is sometimes smug, but that is just his character. Above all he is a thief though, and his character clearly illustrates this with his dialogue, and his interactions with the other characters being devious, sly and humorous.
From the very first paragraph I was hooked, Aaron's wizards are a wonderful creation. The magic in The Spirit Thief is achieved by communicating with spirits, and each part of the world has a different spirit within itself. It is his talent for spirit communication that sets Eli above and apart from all the other wizards - he is somewhat special in this regard.
Eli is accompanied by two different characters, a swordsman Josef and a demonseed, Nico. These characters each have their different personalities and their interactions with Eli and among each other make for the most humorous of dialogue. Josef is pretty direct and does not need all the details that Eli finds important to complete his goals. Nico, however, remains more in the background, her history and intentions as yet unrevealed.
I have read many books recently that focus more on the darker aspect in fantasy, so The Spirit Thief was a nice change of scenery. The Spirit Thief does has its “dark” moments, where there are battles between swordsman and magicians, but there was none of the gruesome/gore scenes. Instead, the use of spirit magic makes for a lighter tale that I found extremely enjoyable. The Spirit Thief's storyline feels natural and not at all forced, the dialogue and action scenes move along nicely, and Aaron throws in the unexpected that makes things that little bit more exciting. The Spirit Thief is a great opening to a new series, the character are well thought through and their backgrounds interesting. If Aaron keeps this standard up in the books that follow then the series will be sure-fire winner!