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REVIEW: 'The Spirit Thief' by Rachel Aaron

   Eli Monpress is Talented.  He's Charming.  And he's a thief.

   But not just any thief.  He's the greatest thief of the age -- and he's also a great wizard.  And with the help of his partners -- a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls -- he's going to put his plan into effect.

   The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things.  But he'll start small.  He'll just steal something that no one will miss -- at least for a while.

   Something like a king.


   I truly enjoyed this book from the first page to last.  The pacing was great, the action good and the characters were spectacular.  I tend to latch onto characters first and foremost when reading and it's not often I like every character in the book -- this was one of those times.  Rachel Aaron did a great job of giving every character their own voice and time to shine, even though the real star of this book is 'Eli Monpress', the thief mentioned on the back cover.

   I think the charming rogue can be a generic part of stories, but very rarely are they handled just right.  Eli is that perfect blend of smooth talker, crafty planner and playful wizard-rogue whose main goal seems to simply be to get the bounty on his head impossibly high.  Even when the plot pans out to be much more than just what is mentioned on the back cover, his simple goals don't seem to change much or have anything nefarious behind them.

   The magic system in this series is very interesting.  For the first half of the book things seem very magic-lite, even when the wizards, or spiritualists as the case may be, are in scene.  It seems wizards don't simply caste or create raw power, but use the spirits of things -- animals, trees, rocks, chairs...whatever -- to do things for them.  This creates good an evil dynamics depending on whether a spiritualist forces the spirit to do it's bidding or works with it as a partner.

   The later half of the book (the last hundred pages especially with the final battle) the story is much more magic heavy.  At times I felt like I was watching Naruto (a feeling I found interesting when reading the author was a big manga fan later) with the amount of power and 'huge' things happening.  Personally I enjoy both aspects of magic in fantasy... stories where magic is more mysterious and hidden and versions like this where it is huge and in your face.  I do think this type can prove difficult to juggle for an author and often hand us a 'deus ex machina' type ending.  Rachel Aaron was able to work with this well in my opinion and simply continue to reveal and build interesting characters that a reader will look forward to finding more out about as the trilogy moves on.  Perhaps if this was the ending to the overall story it might be more unsatisfying, but as just closing of a chapter, as the case may be, was just fine.

Bottom Line:

   I think fans of author Brent Weeks work would feel right at home with Aaron's writing.  Not to mention any fantasy fan that likes a fast moving, well paced read with great characters.  "The Spirit Thief" is available now as a paperback, as is it's second volume "The Spirit Rebellion" with the third volume coming soon and the fourth be finished up now I believe.

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