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I loved David Tallerman’s debut novel, Giant Thief, earlier this year (reviewed here). With the next installment in the series, Tallerman proves he’s more than a flash in the pan. Crown Thief is a fast moving, exciting adventure.
Here’s the basic set-up:
Easie Damasco is returning to the city of Altapasaeda after the events of the previous book. In addition to a number of guardsmen, he’s accompanied by Saltllick the giant, Marina Estrada, and Guard Captain Alvantes. It turns out that not all is well in Altapasaeda. The city has been taken over by crooks, some of whom may be familiar to you if you read the first book. Easie manages to infiltrate the city, but not without stirring things up.
Pursued by a deadly assassin, Easie and Alvantes end up traveling north to seek aid from the king. Little do they know that the dangers that await them in the capital far outweigh those they leave behind.
I’ll not spoil any of the plot with further details.
Rather I’ll talk about what sets this series, and this entry in that series, apart from your typical fantasy.
First, the characters, primarily Easie Damasco. Damasco is a complex man, one who is quite flawed and not entirely reliable as a narrator. But he’s not afraid of a little introspection. In this book he begins to develop a conscience. Several times he does the right thing, even when it’s clearly not in his self-interest to do so. The changes he goes through are a refreshing break from the typical fantasy hero who either has not self-doubts or is full of them. He’s not a killer and tries to avoid violence, yet will defend himself if he has to.
Almost as interesting is Guard Captain Alvantes. He’s a man guided by duty and not one to loosen up. In other words, he and Easie aren’t exactly cut out to be friends. Alvantes is about to learn that sometimes there’s a cost to doing your duty that isn’t worth paying.
Put these two men together, and what results is some of the best character interplay and development you’re likely to see. They’ve got to learn to trust each other. Not an easy task. The fact they have similar goals, often identical goals, but wildly different means of achieving those goals means the story isn’t going to be dull, even when there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of stuff going on.
This is a novel with heart, something we don’t see enough of at times. I especially liked how the villagers rallied together to keep the giants alive. The interactions of the minor characters showed people at both their best and worst. This made the world feel more real and lived-in.
And the ending, well, let’s just say the cliff-hanger was perfect. If the next book, Prince Thief, were out now, I’d have started reading it immediately.
If you haven’t met Easie Damasco, you should. You’ll be glad you did.