Sunday 22 January 2012

Book review: Giant Thief...

David Tallerman
Angry Robot

Easie Damasco is about to be hanged by a trio of fishermen no less. Well, Easie is a thief, although he denies this particular crime vehemently. He is a smooth talker as well though and his witty comebacks do delay the hanging long enough for a rescuer to arrive. Well rescuer is perhaps the wrong word. Moaradrid is in fact the leader of this army and the fishermen some of his ‘soldiers’ although the word is perhaps used loosely in their case.

Nonetheless Easie is spared his noose and instead recruited into Moaradrid’s army to put himself to some use – no point wasting an able man. Not yet anyhow. Easie quickly learns that his destination, the volunteer brigade, is a sure path to slaughter at the hands of the enemy as soon as the armies meet in battle; the volunteers meet the first onslaught as sacrifice to keep the real soldiers safe. Easie is introduced to some of Moaradrid’s band including the terrifying giant Saltlick – an enormously formidable creature that sadly has unswaying loyalty to Moaradrid, or so it seems at first.

Easie fancies death at the point of a sword or spear, or even at the hand of a giant’s fist, no more than he fancied a hanging and rather than stick around to serve in Moaradrid’s army, which by some irony happens to be the enemy of his own people, he puts his skills to good use, steals Moaradrid’s hefty money pouch and somehow manages to escape practically unscathed. By a strange turn of fate Saltlick is ordered to obey Easie and the giant assists in making the getaway.

Now, Easie Damasco, renowned thief and now a giant thief, finds himself relentlessly pursued, riding on a giant and running rapidly from one danger into another. Saltlick turns out to be more of a burden than a blessing and quick as he can Easie ditches the giant to make good his own escape. He reaches the town of Muena Palaiya and hopes the Thieves Highway can help him shake off Moaradrid for good. Unfortunately he finds himself at the mercy of a new foe and by an inescapable irony his only means of freedom now relies on his relocating Saltlick and stealing the giant anew.

Tallerman has great command of language and phrasing and the witty tone of this book makes it a thoroughly enjoyable read. The pace is fantastic and the action takes off right from the start tracking Easie’s misadventures from one theft to the next. An endearing protagonist, a host of excellent supporting characters, a less than communicative giant, and most importantly a unique story, are just some of the elements that make this book worth reading. The narrative flows well and it is not easy to predict what trouble Easie will inflict upon himself in each new chapter.

Perhaps my only complaint is that with the action and pace keeping up so well throughout, we are not given much of a back-story for Easie, or indeed any of the supporting cast, and with some of the characters he encounters it is clear that they definitely have a history. With Giant Thief Due out in February and then another Easie Damasco tale planned for release later in 2012 this is a series and an author to look out for and hopefully Tallerman will reveal more about this loveable thief in later books.

Elloise Hopkins.

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