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
First, I was given a review copy in exchange for a review, all thoughts are mine, and thank you to Will and Gollancz for providing me one!
This review contains minor spoilers. You read at your behest.
The Blacktounge Thief should be summarised in four words: Stealing, Krakens, Giants, Birds. That’s the gist of this story. That should be more than enough to get you started into an adventurous fantasy that is full of fun, gore, misery, pain, loss, and hope. It’s also the tale of Kinch, a thief who’s trying to make it in an unforgiving world full of cutthroats, betrayers, traitors, scoundrels, and hungry goblins that love to hunt down humans. His obligation to the Taker’s Guild, a guild where thieves operate within, is the result of his childhood. Not only that but a certain quest that he is given by the Guild to do drives the crux of a very fascinating journey. Kinch may not be the best man on the block. But when the time comes to do something good, this man will do it.
Kinch is a very odd fellow. On the one hand, he’s the version of Jack Sparrow, only on land. On the other hand, he’s the version of a clever Will Turner. One that thinks for himself, and one that is capable of getting out of tricky situations. It is refreshing to see a character that thinks for himself but also knows how to waggle his tongue. Every character in this book falls to his charm. Kinch has a natural charm that makes even the most hated enemy of his become friendly towards him. Also, Kinch has a habit of getting his hair pulled often. He embarks on a quest with Galva, the sassy and quiet Ispanthian who he loves to call nicknames with, to travel to this city of Oustrim, and discover secrets that will ultimately make him question himself.
Have no doubt, that throughout every part of this novel, Kinch is finding a way to get rid of his obligation to the Taker’s Guild. It’s also a journey of trying to figure out who he is. And if it’s one thing I didn’t like, whether Norrigal was flinging an insult at him, Malk calling him a scoundrel, including Galva, all for calling him a thief with envy in their tongues, what does that make the politicians of Molrova? The King of Ispanthia? The Ministers and Kings, Emperors of certain lands are also thieves of their kind. Taxing peasants for more than they are worth. So why should Kinch be subject to that abuse when it’s the higher-ups in this world that should be held accountable? Stealing is wrong, certainly.
But I ask Malk, Norrigal, Galva, where were you when Kinch’s life took the direction of the path of the thief? Were you there to stop him? Were you there to guide him? No, you weren’t. I ended up disliking most of the characters that Kinch was with at the end. They are all using Kinch for their purposes, and then degrade him, I’ve ended up liking Kinch far more than any of the other characters involved. And I wasn’t too convinced with his chemistry with Norrigal, because Kinch can find a partner that will understand for who he is rather than what he is. I can relate to Kinch, in some form.
But the main hero is not a grim-dark character. Far from it. Kinch is an actual hero except he finds himself doing things that really would not be ideal for an ordinary human being to do. Kinch in this novel, as far I can recall, hasn’t done anything bad to anyone. Like, not really anything bad. I can’t recall anything that Kinch has done that would make him deserving of this kind. So, there’s that for you. With regards to the other aspects of the novel, the worldbuilding was on point. I felt distinctions between each race and felt that certain scenes were slower-paced than they should have been. Some scenes could have been reduced, while I wanted a glossary as well just to make sure I could go and refer to the nations. The map was very nice, and I kept going back to it many times.
This is medieval fantasy reborn, complete with its unique mythology. A starring debut that deserves your attention, and a novel that is fun and will make you feel like you’re embarking on a special journey. This is the fun adventurous fantasy novel that we need more off rather than epic plots for the time being. Get this book.