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.
Hello again dear reader ! I wonder which part of the world you’re reading this from, one of the ones that are melting or the ones on the opposite end that are getting more than enough water.
For my part I’m slowly evaporating, so what better time to talk about a book filled to the brim with misadventures!
I’d had my eye on Buehlman’s The Blacktongue Thief for a while now, and then my bday came around and I finally had the chance to snag a copy, just as I was looking for something that would be an entertaining and speedy read.
So let’s start there: this book is absolutely *hilarious*, mostly in a darkly comedic sort of way mind you. Truly I found myself chuckling right from the first pages at Kinch’s snark and commentary. Sometimes I caught myself laughing really loud too and that was definitely what I wanted as a low effort read these days. Kinch is certainly a likable protagonist because he is both a realist and the kind of guy with very few f*cks left to give that goes where he is told (but he doesn’t have to like it). Which is also one of the kinds of protag that I love but also know that is not always for everyone.
I also really enjoyed Buehlman’s narration style as he does almost all of his world building and expositing through Kinch’s meandering thoughts. It was a great way to tackle the after-effects of the Goblin Wars and the not so removed history of this world. It’s the kind of story where it feels like the character has sat you down to tell you of all of his misadventures but also makes sure to give the necessary context for you to appreciate his references, inside jokes, and commentary on said past events.
Speaking for the rest of the characters, while I did enjoy their interactions with the protag and all of them where badass in their own rights, we don’t get that much insight into them which would’ve made them a tad more impactful – granted that was an expected possibility since we’re reading from Kinch’s limited first person perspective.
Plot wise, I found myself describing it to a friend as a sort of Odyssey where the main overarching plot is just that the protag needs to go from point A to point B, however he gets sidetracked by various, almost individual and short misadventures (or side quests if you like that metaphor more). There are giants! Goblins ! Cool elemental magic! Animal companions! Oh and whale hunting pirates fighting sea monsters!
This all worked rather well I thought and, as I mentioned earlier, paired with Kinch’s hilarious snark and sass, it was good fun to go through for the most part.
That said, by the last few chapters I had two main grievances.
Firstly there was a a single line that just threw me so far out of the story I sat and stared at the page for a solid five minutes thinking why… what the hell does this even mean? However much I cringed at it though, I’ll say that the rest of the book, even when touching on dirty/lewd humor and darker topics, had been rather well done considering the character’s voice and the general ambience of the story/world. Maybe that’s why that one line threw me so much I suppose, and I say this as someone who is as far from prudish as you can get.
Secondly – and the main reason this went from an original 8 rating to the 7.5 I ultimately decided on- the last fourth of the book met a bit of a lull, meandering a bit too much to hold my interest and making me wish more than once that the chapter I was on would go by faster so I could get back on track with the story. For instance there’s almost a whole chapter (they are relatively short to be fair) dedicated to the rules and every single move of a card game which didn’t feel necessary, especially as by that point you’d expect events to ramp up as they reach the finale.
Ultimately though, when it did get there, the finale did land on its feet, promising interesting things for the future of this story that definitely has me intrigued for more in the sequel !!
Until next time,
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