Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prince Thief: From the Tales of Easie Damasco (Tales of Easie Damasco #3) #review

Title: Prince Thief: From the Tales of Easie Damasco 
Series: Tales of Easie Damasco #3
Author: David Tallerman
Publisher: Angry Robot, 2013

I’m always a bit leery of jumping into a series when it’s a few books in, so I will admit to needing a bit of time to adjust to the story and its host of characters who have already shared considerable backstory. I’m glad I persevered. David Tallerman has an easy, and broadly entertaining style that drew me into his world.
From what I can gather, Easie Damasco has made it a habit to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now he has fallen in with the ringleaders of a rebellion, and the city of Altapasaeda is besieged by the king of Castoval. Things are not looking good, and that’s putting it mildly.

Easie finds himself cast in a pivotal role to steal the Shoanish prince, a miserable youth by the name of Malekrin, from under the nose of his battleaxe mother’s nose, and bring him back to Altapasaeda. The reason: Malekrin is the bastard grandson of the king, and it’s hoped that the lad, who’s pretty much the leader of the rebel nation, will be able to turn the tide in the city’s favour.
Well, that’s the theory, at least.

Things rarely go smoothly for Easie, however, as he and his giant friend Saltlick, embark on their desperate quest.

I will totally recommend reading the books in order. I view myself as a savvy reader, so I don’t mind not knowing all the missing details, but I suspect that I missed a lot, especially the history between secondary characters Alvantes and Estrada.

Easie Damasco is likeable. Insanely so. He’s not the most adept thief in world, and his smart mouth tends to run away with him (I can compare him favourably to a roguish, slightly toned down Captain Sparrow-type character). What’s refreshing about this novel is he’s not the hero of the story. His activities don’t shake the world, but his actions are lynchpins that set the bigger events in motion, and that I appreciate. It makes a refreshing change from following around a mage or a prince.

Mostly, he’s a person. He sees the events that transpire around him from the perspective of an ordinary person. The ugly realities of war are brought home. There is no glory in death dealing. People get hurt. People are maimed. People die. They hunger, and don’t have securities for the future.

What shone through for me mostly was Tallerman’s exploration of the nature of friendship, and if I have to look for a theme that underpins Prince Thief, it’s just that: how we relate to friends. Easie realises that it’s not just every man for himself, but he’s defined also by his relationships with the people around him.

This is a fantastic story for its realism. The tale might not tie up conveniently, or with huge epic fanfare, but it *feels* authentic, and that’s what counts. Lovely characterisation, awesome dialogue and an overall solid fantasy read.

Oh, yes. And giants. Believable ones.

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