Why did I get it: Something about the cover intrigued me and I have a thing for con men in any medium.
How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars – Amazing! I wish it had gone on forever and I want more right now!
My Summary: Eli Monpress is a master thief so it stands to reason that he deserves to be worth a large reward if captured. The best way to ensure he’s worth money is to steal something that will people will surely miss. And what could be better than kidnapping a king? With the help of a master swordsman named Josef and a demonseed named Nico, he aims to succeed.
But what ought to have been a fairly simple process becomes very complicated when Eli and his crew find themselves dealing not only with resourceful and determined wizard named Miranda but a swordsman, a banished wizard, and a secret treasure. It looks like Eli just might have gone after much more than he bargained for.
My Review: This book was awesome! As I said earlier when I was about halfway through this book, I think the major reasons why The Spirit Thief worked so well for me is that it’s vaguely Pratchett-esque and there’s also a whimsical quirkiness that reminds me a bit of manga and anime, especially Hayao Miyazaki’s films.
I was amazed to discover that I liked every character in this book. Eli, Miranda, and Miranda’s ghosthound Gin were my favorites, but I really liked Josef, Henrith, and Marion too. Nico was all right, but I think I will end up caring more for Nico as time passes. The spirits were really easy to like too, and I loved the effect Eli had on all of them. I did think the bad guys were fairly typical in terms of one wanting to be the best swordsman and the other wanting to be the most powerful wizard, but I didn’t think that was really a problem. I loved watching the “good guys” find a way to work together and then seeing how everyone’s powers worked in combat situations including Miranda’s.
Another aspect of the book that really, really worked for me and has me a little concerned about future installments, is that I throughily enjoyed the lack of romance in The Spirit Thief. Some books need romance, some books don’t. This book did not need romance. Now Miranda and Eli had issues with one another, but they were both just people having different approaches to people, magic, and morality that had to eventually band together and snark. I found that to be really, really absurdly refreshing. I think Josef and Nico will probably get together, which is fine, but I hope that Eli remains as hellbent on stealing things and making friends with spirits as much as possible during the course of this five book series. I like that he cares about his crew and gets along well with basically every plant, rock, and branch in creation, but I also really, really like that his life does not revolve around any one person besides himself or increasing the size of the bounty on his head.
The world worked for me too in that sometimes it’s actually refreshing to read a lighthearted fantasy that dealt with interesting, but too terribly complex issues that weren’t going to ever result in a war or the end times for the world the characters live in. The humor throughout was great, and I felt that there was originality in this book in terms of its concepts if not in regards to the world’s magic system or fighting system in of themselves. I really didn’t mind the magic and fighting being fairly straightforward since it was all very interesting to read about and very well-written.
I strongly believe that not all books have to reinvent the whole entire wheel to be unique. Besides, I can’t think of many books where the spirits/embodiments of every living thing and inanimate object made from natural resources talked to characters in a way that wasn’t distractingly pointless or just plain irritating. And no matter what a writer does, some things are going to be familiar to a reader if the book is set in a fantasy realm. Magic and sword fights are probably at the top of that list.
As far as the magic was concerned, the spirits added enough originality to the mix for my tastes. I’m sure the next few books and learning about the characters, especially Eli and Nico’s back stories, will add even more complexities and new twists. As for the fighting, I also found that interesting because of the swords and Josef’s inability to hear/care/see spirits. Aaron was careful not to have these scenes drag out for too long, and I was glad to see that all encounters, magical or physical, yielded some kind of result in a timely fashion.
The only aspect of the book I disliked the least was this random mysterious character named Benehime who showed up in basically two scenes. I’m sure she’ll matter later on, but really even her short interferences were baffling to me. All she seemed to do was be smug and mysterious and then hit on Eli in order to indicate how special he was. I imagine this was there so that people would realize there was more to Eli than met the eye, but I don’t think I needed those scenes in order to reach that conclusion.
Speaking of conclusions, what a great book! Much like with The Iron King, I cannot be less than 110% in love with this book. I loved it. I love it still. Already I sort of want to read it again. Considering my fairly epic Godzilla-sized To Read list, that’s just about the highest compliment I can give a book.
Besides, if no one else is that excited… Clearly that means I can have Eli Monpress all to myself. Which is excellent news.