Guest Review: They Eat Their Own (A Thung Toh Jig #2) by Amanda K. King and Michael R. Swanson



We at FanFiAddict want to thank Steve Caldwell (aka The Bookwyrm Speaks) for his review of They Eat Their Own.

Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter, @Sandman_Slim101, or on his blog, The Bookwyrm Speaks.


Rating: 10/10

Synopsis

A new year has begun, and the annual Sower’s Festival gala is brimming with Dockhaven’s elite and their entourages. Some attend for the spectacle, some for the exotic indulgences, some to augment or gamble away fortunes. Others come to play opening moves in more subtle competitions, ones that will not realize their endgames for months to come.

After a winter of convalescence, Aliara Rift wonders whether she is ready to return to the Thung Toh and if her remade body will betray her. Her mate, Duke Sylandair Imythedralin, has many concerns, the foremost being the looming destruction of the only home in which the two of them have truly felt safe. Together they will thwart land barons, politicians, and assassins as they navigate their way through a single day in Ismae’s greatest port city.

They Eat Their Own is the second Thung Toh Jig, a science fantasy action adventure following members of Ismae’s preeminent covert organization as they execute contracts for Dockhaven’s most powerful and ruthless citizens.

Review

This is one of those books that mixes creative characters who push the story along with fantastic world building. The characters from the first book, with the emphasis on Sylandair and Aliara, get more depth throughout the book. Adding a bit more to their backstory, you find out even more clearly how they got where they are, and get a closer look at their decision making process. The events of the previous books have left their mark on them both, and they are still dealing with the trauma, especially Aliara, who’s injuries almost killed her. She is unsure if her abilities will return completely, and this doubt really helps makes her a more sympathetic character, while still leaving her to grow back to her strong, resilient self. Sylandair is also a complex character, with strengths and flaws that really make him ring true. The secondary characters are all well written, created as well rounded characters with strengths and flaws, which really helps sell their various stories.

The world building is such a strength of this series. Dockhaven, in my opinion, is one of the best settings in fantasy/sci-fi, on par with the great ones such as Lankhmar, Ankh-Morpork and Sanctuary. It is so well described, you can practically smell the sea salt and feel the wind blowing the stink from the slums. The dichotomy of high tech and low fantasy really shines through, and creates such a unique setting. You really do get a feeling of a hive of scum and villainy, with a thin veneer of gentility over it.T he narration of the audio version is once again handled quite ably by Heather Masters. She does such a fantastic job of keeping the narrative flowing, never falling into a monotone or getting too excited and out of control as the story races forward. She brings each character to life, giving them their own unique voice, using different tones, accents and cadences to differentiate them. You are never in doubt as to which character is speaking at any time. She is a true professional, and a great pick for this story.

The change in tones between the first and second book could have gone badly wrong if handled by the wrong authors. Fortunately, Amanda and Michael were the right authors, and did an amazing job shifting tones from a sci-fi/ fantasy hybrid with some serious horror elements, to what I think of as a down and dirty Ocean’s Eleven kind of heist story with an underlying conspiracy. I can see this book appealing to people on both sides of the sci-fi/fantasy divide, and create new fans of both.

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