Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.
But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.
Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.
Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva’s. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford.
The Blacktongue Thief is the first installment in Christopher Buehlman’s new Blacktongue series, published by Tor Books. I have to say I really love this book, as it has so many aspects of an adventure fantasy that I enjoy.
I want to first pull back the curtain and give you all a little bit of a glimpse into my process. When I finish a book, I immediately put together the skeleton of a review. I start the post by putting all of the above information together, and then I write a one-sentence review that reflects my first reaction to the book. This helps me when I go back in later and use it as a basis for an extended examination. It is telling that my one-sentence review of The Blacktongue Thief was “I freaking love this book.” Now, after forgetting how to write a review for a while, and then somewhat remembering, I am here to expand (though I am tempted to leave it as is).
I will never get tired of stating how much I love adventure fantasy. There is nothing better to me as a reader than going on an escapade through an an amazing world with awesome characters and getting into some trouble. Now THAT is a great one-sentence review of this book, because I really think it encompasses all of its amazing characteristics.
I love Kinch as a main character. He is witty and snarky does not give a rat’s ass what you think. Throwing caution to the wind, Kinch’s goal is to overcome the debt levied on him by the Taker’s Guild and free himself at all costs. Of course, this leads to him to fall into some precarious situations, which gives the reader one of the best parts of the plot: watching Kinch and friends get out of trouble. It reminds me of a quote I heard someone say somewhere about MaGyver: It’s not the “if” but the “how”. Kinch along with companions Galva and Norrigal are a fun group to follow, for sure.
I want to describe just how adventurous this book is, but I do not think I can do any better than the synopsis. For 90% of the book it is constant action, and even better is the fact that the action differs from scene to scene. There are fight scenes and escape scenes, escapades at sea involving giant krakens, and interactions with strange goblins. I was so enthralled by all of this that not did only did I not want to put the book down because I had to find out how the current conflict is resolved, but I was already looking forward to what was to come. Keeping your readers on their toes by making them constantly think “what is going to happen next” is a full-proof way of making sure they stay engaged. And I felt that way for most of the book.
Dwelling on the the theme of adventure a little more, the world building really fit into the overall theme. Again, this is an aspect of adventure fantasy that I love is that often we get different landscapes, seascapes, forestcapes, cavescapes, and underground scapes. I may have made a few of those up, but that is fine. I enjoy all the different areas of the map with varying topographies and lifeforms. The Blacktongue Thief does a phenomenal job of highlighting the world through journey.
I really do not want to leave without talking about Buehlman’s writing. This is my first from this author, and I enjoyed it so damn much that I want to check out the rest of the author’s portfolio. The writing is clever, and the story incredibly well-planned out that I cannot resist looking into Buehlman’s backlist. I really like the way depth was built into the story by dropping these little bits of information into the scenes. I like this method of introducing things to the reader as opposed to one or two big info dumps. Props to the author for the pacing, as well, though I do want to mention there was a bit of a lull around the middle of the book. I cannot be too critical, though, because everyone deserves an opportunity to take a breath.
Those are the reasons why I liked this book so much. The Blacktongue Thief is cleverly-written adventure fantasy that both had me on the edge of my seat and on the floor laughing simultaneously. I cannot wait to read book 2.