Giant Thief by David Tallerman
|Book Name:||Giant Thief|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Release Date:||January 31, 2012|
Do you remember when giants were ‘in’? No? Well, actually – neither do I. Probably because giants had their hey-day many, many years ago. Hercules met a few, David took down Goliath and even the most modern examples within Paul Bunyan and dare I say it, Jack & The Beanstalk are at least 100 years past.
The Bible actually lists giants as factual:
There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. – Genesis 6:4
Interestingly, a lot of people believe that giants did once roam the Earth and have put together tomes of information in regards to their once upon time existence. Some of the pictures that they use as evidence are actually quite disturbing and I invite you to type “evidence for giants” or something along those lines to find them.
So, back to fantasy literature – where have all the giants gone? Well, we don’t know where they went or even why they disappeared, what we do know though is; they’re back!
Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.
Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.
Giant Thief is a modern fantasy novel in every sense of the word. The protagonist, Easie Damasco, is one of the finest examples of first person narration I’ve had the pleasure to stumble across over the last few years. That is certainly a big statement with the likes of The Name of the Wind, Among Thieves, and Prince Of Thorns having been released during this timeframe. I think what the Giant Thief offers though is a first person narrator who is willing to engage with the reader and laugh at himself, poke fun at himself and cause the reader also to do so – consistently. I hope Angry Robot (the publishers) will forgive me for revealing to you the first paragraph of the novel, however, I think to fully understand the tone and narrative style I have commented upon you will need to see it in action:
The sun was going down by the time they decided to hang me.
In fairness, they hadn’t rushed the decision. They’d been debating it for almost an hour since my capture and initial beating. One of the three was in favour of handing me over to an officer from amongst the regulars. The second had been determined to slit my throat, and was so set in his opinion that I’d hoped he might make a start with his companions. On that basis, I’d decided to lend him my encouragement.
I guess the closest style of narrative I can think of is Scott Lynch and perhaps a little Douglas Hulick in there too. Whatever, the narrative style throughout is fantastic.
Onto the story now, which rarely do I comment upon secondary to the narrative. The story is interesting and enjoyable, if not completely unique. Essentially, our loveable rogue ends up annoying the wrong man, a powerful man who leads an army of giants who follow the object that Easie manages to get his hands on. Quickly, Easie realises that this man is going to kill him, even if he turns around and hands the stone back to him. His only chance to escape is to outrun this warlord, and there is no way he is going to do that alone.
Luckily, there happens to be a giant who is tired of killing human beings for this warlord. So, Easie befriends him, jumps upon his back and heads off into the distance. The story is basically about him running from the warlord and, as a number of other bloggers have said, this element of the book is the weakest. The chase from village to village with the warlord nearly, but not quite, capturing Easie does get a little tedious initially.
However, after the strong start, if you get through the hundred or so pages of running (which I guess are needed) then Tallerman once again begins to deliver. The book begins to build its layers and there are a number of different threads that all pick up pace. Easie meets a number of old acquaintances, it is up to the reader to decide whether they are friends of enemies – either way, he is forced to travel with them and this brings a more interesting dynamic. Easie’s constant thoughts on these characters and stories of how he met them begin to entertain you during the chase and once again, we begin to smile and enjoy the first person narrative.
What I haven’t talked much about is the developing relationship between Easie and his giant. The most common response I have heard in regards to the giant, Saltlick, is “I want a Saltlick!” Which is not only strange to hear, but justifiable. He is just so damned cute! I mean…never mind. Yes, he is adorable. The giant basically has the IQ of a young child and is willing to do pretty much whatever Easie says (we do see times of childlike reluctance/ignoring though, of course). I think the whole point of this book if you like is the growing relationship between the loner thief Easie and the childlike giant Saltlick. As singular entities they are dangerous and actually rather dislikeable creatures – Easie tends to rob people blind and move on, Saltlick tends to crush people on behalf of a warlord. Together though, they grow not only reliant upon one another, which is necessary if ever they are to escape, but they also become friends.
Finally, I would like to say something about the publishers: Angry Robot. Angry Robot Books are not generally seen as one of the big genre publishers, right? WRONG! Take that back! Now! Angry Robot Books SHOULD be known as one of the biggest names in fantasy literature. If you doubt that, go now, read Carpathia, Giant Thief, Empire State, Debris, King Maker, Debris, or Zoo City. Angry Robot Books in 2012, have one hell of a release list. It may in fact be, for me, be the publishing list to watch for the year. So, check them out here and book mark them.
Back to the Giant Thief, I truly believe that this book will be one of the finest débuts of 2012. Although this first book is not flawless, it introduces a damned fine, unique narrative style and a couple of characters that could go on to have some truly epic adventures. David Tallerman has done a great job and I look forward to seeing where he takes these characters next – one thing is for sure though, as long as Easie is telling the tale, I’m sure there will be trouble ahead!
You can listen to an interview with the author, David Tallerman, here on the third episode of the Fantasy-Faction Podcast.