I buy books on impulse. I bought Among Thieves because it had the word ‘thieves’ on the cover. Yes, it was from ROC, an imprint I like. Yes, the back cover blurb involved hijinks and a book. But it was the word ‘thieves’ that did me in. I had just finished rereading the first two Gentleman Bastards books by Scott Lynch in anticipation of the Republic of Thieves release. Since that book has been pushed back to October/November, I needed a thieves fix. So I’ll forgive myself an impulse since it answered my needs so neatly. Douglas Hulick’s debut is exactly what the doctor ordered, albeit a doctor who operates out of a back alley and only takes cash.
Drothe is a Nose for Nicco, one of Ildrecca’s crime lords. In other words, he sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong and reports that information back to Nicco. The book opens in the middle of a long, bad day for Drothe. He was supposed to pick up a reliquary being smuggled, but the merchant didn’t have it. There are also rumors of unrest in Ten Ways, a small district that none of the crime lords control but all have a presence in. It’s unrest that will require Drothe’s expertise, both as a Nose and a former resident. The more he sticks his nose into matters, the more he realizes he’s doomed.
At his side is Bronze Degan, one of the best sellswords in the country (who just might have a thing for Drothe’s sister). Not on his side: everyone else, including Drothe’s sister, who married into the nobility and would like to forget her more unsavory connections. For that matter, Degan might not really be on Drothe’s side either. No wonder Drothe is popping fantasy drugs to keep up with the action.
Douglas Hulick allows things to unfold at a nice pace. There’s quite a bit of worldbuilding, most of involving Ildrecca’s reincarnating emperor and the consequences of that system of rule. All of the characters have secrets, but they come clean in logical places instead of dragging it out forever. The secrets also feel foreshadowed. While learning more about Drothe affected how I looked at the book, I never felt like Hulick is cheating. The various twists and turns make sense, which is good, because there are a lot.
If you don’t have time to pay much attention to what you are reading, Among Thieves isn’t the best book to pick up. If you do have the time to pick through a labyrinthine plot, then go for it. Hulick allows the status quo to change quite a bit at the end, so I’m eager to see how things will turn out in the next Tale of the Kin. I might have to reread Among Thieves to make sure I can keep up. And then I might cry if it gets delayed.
Death around the corner …
Ildrecca is a dangerous city, if you don’t know what you’re doing. It takes a canny hand and a wary eye to run these streets and survive. Fortunately, Drothe has both. He has been a member of the Kin for years, rubbing elbows with thieves and murderers from the dirtiest of alleys to the finest of neighborhoods. Working for a crime lord, he finds and takes care of trouble inside his boss’s organization—while smuggling relics on the side.
But when his boss orders Drothe to track down whoever is leaning on his organization’s people, he stumbles upon a much bigger mystery. There’s a book, a relic any number of deadly people seem to be looking for—a book that just might bring down emperors and shatter the criminal underworld.
A book now inconveniently in Drothe’s hands…
Read an excerpt here.