Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick
|Book Name:||Among Thieves|
|Publisher(s):||Tor (UK) ROC (USA)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Fantasy / Dark Fantasy|
|Release Date:||April 5, 2011|
Fantasy in 2010 is different than it was 20-30 years ago. Gone are the days when the genre is filled with whiter than white characters that take on quests for the greater good. We have had far, far too many of those over the years…
In the last few years, novels such as Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy and Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy have taken fantasy to new places. In these novels we meet dark characters, who murder, steal and generally do bad things to survive – and yet somehow still have us rooting for them.
Début Author Douglas Hulick is the latest to write a novel that slots in within this hierarchy of gritty modern day fantasy writers. And the good news is – not only does he sit amongst these names comfortably, he is indeed a contender to the crown.
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Drothe is a nose – an informant for a gang-leader. His work involves dealing with and reporting on some of the shiftiest characters within the criminal underworld. As you can imagine, he is not very popular. Especially seeing as sometimes in order to get the information he needs to do some very, very bad things.
In fact, we begin the book with a scene of torture. A scene of torture so well described and so eerily written that you will be wincing at every cracked finger, slap across the face and various other methods, which I am not sure I should go into through an uncensored review.
We quickly realise that whatever information Drothe is trying to extract from his victim, it’s not going to come easy. The guy has been beaten to a bloody pulp and yet still will not talk – that simply does not happen. As thieves there is no loyalty – no one is willing to die out of loyalty so Drothe summarises it must be fear.
This leaves Drothe in a predicament, who could possibly put more fear into this man than himself, the man standing over him whilst bound to a barrel and being tortured within an inch of his life? Eventually Drothe’s methods get him a meaningless name, but his victim quite openly tells him that he would rather die than give him anything more. He is of course obliged.
Using his night vision – an ability passed down to him by his stepfather, Drothe searches his dead victim’s belongings. All he finds is a note with a few meaningless symbols.
Before he can research any further into the matter, his boss Nicco calls him back to his lair. Someone in Ten Ways has been pushing about the people that pay him for protection. No one steps on Nicco’s turf and therefore he is sure something is going down. We quickly find out that the Criminal Underworld is in a state of conflict. Someone is trying to cause a rift between the rival gangs in the underworld. But what could be their motivation? The last time there was a war in the underworld the empire got involved and nearly wiped the whole damned region out.
As he arrives at his best lead’s workshop he notices something strange, his entrails are spilled all across the floor. Not good for a nose looking for the information he was harnessing. All signs show that whatever happened, those that assassinated his lead were looking for something. When cutters storm the building, Drothe is forced to make a run for it. Whilst making his escape he hears a conversation about a book and makes tracking it down his next priority. However when he hears who has the book, he knows he is in for a mission so dangerous that it could almost be called suicide.
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Among Thieves is a mind blowingly good read. The book begins by thrusting you right in the centre of the action and from there it simply doesn’t stop. If you are not accompanying Drothe shaking down those within the underworld, you are witnessing intense battles and feats of magic. The fight scenes are extremely well done – you can certainly see how author Douglas Hulick has used his experience in the art of fencing to add in that extra bit of flair. Throughout this whole journey, you will enjoy the ride, being twisted and turned in a way that you never quite know who is playing who or where the next lead is coming from.
What I think readers will love about this book is the very rare, very well done first person perspective. Drothe is talking to you and sharing his thoughts throughout the novel in a way that much resembles the voice of Philip Marlowe (a hugely popular character by Raymond Chandler). Drothe is witty, he is to the point and he is quite happy to tell you when he is pissed off with how things are going. It’s hard not to love the man and seeing as I’ve already told you that he is an informant that performs torture and commits murder, you may well be surprised. But as I have said, this is not your typical heroic tale.
As a fantasy book, it is up there. If you like Brent Weeks or Scott Lynch’s work, then this is one for you. Ask yourself the question, “Do you like your Fantasy dark, gritty and action packed?” If the answer is yes to all three, this will no doubt be your best read of 2011. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK!