Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron - review

*whenever possible, I link to excerpt of novel - simply click on cover*
The Spirit Thief
Rachel Aaron
2010 mmpp

*****  (5 out of 6 stars)
cover - mmummmmUMPH!  that eyebrow - amazing eyebrow.  it has a personality all its own.  that nose - that is one good nose, it's not too skinny.  And those lips.  yummy.  you just want to nibble on those lips...(did I just say that out loud?  me?!)  Doesn't the whole thing together just scream wicked?  Oh yeah - wicked fun.  Ironically, this book isn't about that kind of wicked fun.  However, it IS about a wickedly charming man who charms spirits....

The Spirit Thief is a charming, fun fantasy read with some characters that I want to read more about.  Though the series is titled The Legend of Eli Monpress, there are three characters besides Eli that appear throughout The Spirit Thief.   There is, of course, Eli Monpress - self titled the best thief in the land.  He wants to prove this by making his bounty larger and larger.  His stated goal, to become worth a million might not be all there is to this story.  He is traveling with two companions.  Josef is a swordsman who has been chosen by a certain sword that he refuses to use.  There is Nico, who has this ability to disappear and reappear.  There's something about her that frightens the spirits - they aren't simply frightened, they are terrified.  And finally - there is Miranda who belongs to an order (The Spirit Court) that uses and protects spirits, keeping the lands safe from nefarious wizards and other dangers.  Miranda has some strong beliefs about spirits.

In this first of (now) five novels, Eli has decided to raise his bounty by kidnapping a King.  Miranda's order has learned that Eli is in the Mellinor Kingdom and Miranda is sent to arrest him.  Seems it's kind of hard for anyone to detain Eli...  Eli is able to talk and charm the spirits of wood, doors, plants, water, all kinds of spirits.  In this world, every item - living or inanimate has a spirit, some more awake than others.  And Eli has a way with all spirits, they all seem to adore him.  Though his chosen life is as a thief, he does have a strong sense of  respecting all spirits, and never forces the spirits - he talks to them.  All the time; as he's traveling, when he needs something from them, when he just passes by...builds good will.

Miranda, on the other hand, enters into a contract type of co-existence with some spirits, using them as servants in return for protecting them.   She also travels with this huge mist hound - a hound that is as big as a horse with abilities of his own.  While in pursuit of Eli, she stumbles on a plot by the King's sinister brother.  This brother has been exiled from the Mellinor Kingdom  - a kingdom that for four hundred years has banned anything to do with magic, especially wizards.  So when Renaud (sinister bro of the king) began exhibiting wizardly abilities, he was sent away.  Needless to say, he grew up bitter, planned to worm his way back into the kingdom and when an opportunity arose, jumped on the chance to take over the kingdom to begin his plot...

I usually don't go into this much detail on a book review, and hope I stayed away from any spoilers.  However, this novel has been around since 2010 -so any spoilers are already out there.  I enjoyed reading this novel - quite a bit.  The characters were fun to read, the dialogue was fitting, and there were some chuckles to balance out some of the more intense moments.  Not that there were any extremely scary moments, or gore - the moments between wizards were more of a will vs will duel, and even the swordsmen fighting weren't bad - there was blood, to be sure, but nothing that would keep a sensitive person from reading...I think.

In this novel, you have all the parts you need - good dialogue, some chuckles, mysterious pasts, interesting characters (though for some reason, I found Miranda to be irritating - not irritating as in, I do not want to read about her, but in the way of, I'm glad she's not in MY face), and I loved that the spirits -a big part of the world building- weren't just mentioned here and there, but their roles were threaded throughout the book.  I would have loved to find out more about Josef and what makes him tick, Nico - where did they find her?   what made them want to protect her? etc.   In addition, there are endless possibilities of storylines, subplots and side characters just with the idea of the spirits of ALL the items in this world.  The door has a spirit - a wood spirit that is most likely deeply asleep....the water in a river, the sand, metal, even a leather bag - and this Eli seems to understand what these spirits need.  The narration was pretty good, even though I found a few spots where I felt like I was in a classroom listening to teachers talk at each other on the use of magic.  Minor issue, since it wasn't over done, but something that does sometimes pull me out of a story.

When the story ended, I wanted to read more.  This is the type of book that I enjoy enough to buy a sequel to see where the characters are going, or just to enjoy Eli's roguish charm, Josef's intensity and Nico's way of frightening all that surrounds her - all except Josef and Eli.  What is up with her?  you'll have to read The Spirit Thief to find out.  I'll be eventually buying the next story in the series, The Spirit Rebellion.  By the way - the first three books are now available in an omnibus edition - three novels for the price of one book - well, for the price of a trade sized ppb.  

**In fact, there was one moment... correct me if I'm wrong  - but if you injure your left leg in a swordfight - wouldn't you favor your left leg and NOT the right leg?  or would it be the other way around?**


  1. There are such different ideas about spirits in different parts of the world. This sounds like an interesting spin on the ways they could be influenced by humans and influence the things that happen in our world.
    I hope you enjoy the sequel just as much!

    1. I've read only the smallest amount about spirits - just through reading novels. What I have read though, has been pretty interesting, and the sheer variety is also very interesting. :)