Title: Theft Of Swords
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
When you pick up an Epic Fantasy novel there are a few things you expect. If you’re like me you’re looking for a good story that takes basic conflicts from our world and puts a fantastic spin on it. Everybody here on Earth has had a bad boss or a mean teacher or a playground bully. How much more fun is it to read a story where the bad guy is not just a middle manager at a software company but is instead a king in thrall to a dark wizard? How much better is a battle when it is against a dragon instead of claims adjuster from Allstate? This is one of the reasons to read fantasy; you get the satisfaction of seeing conflict resolved on a stage that is more vibrant than the strip mall office complex world most of us live in.
But Epic Fantasy can have its drawbacks too. It’s hard keeping Kh’rallnor separate from Ky’rhenos, especially if you have any kind of dyslexia or hyperlexia. It’s often disorienting to have monkey people fighting broccoli people fighting people who are just beams of light wearing purple drapes. Authors striving for fantastic worlds sometimes go past “interesting” and dive headlong into “whatthehellishappening?” Since my return to Epic Fantasy reading three years ago I’ve decided that my favourite authors and stories in this genre are the ones that are able to emphasise the upsides without straying too far into apostrophes, odd beings and dense paragraphs of world-buidling that are more muddling than enlightening.
Anyone who reads Epic Fantasy may at first be kind of…thrown…by Theft Of Swords. Because when you dive into this book it’s more like you’ve picked up a Hardy Boy or a Jack Reacher (the real one in stories, not the idiotic Tom Cruise misportrayal). People have names that aren’t always ordinary but are familiar. There’s no stumbling over word constructs and not a whole lot of “I’ll figure out later through context what a Brokkamar is but for now I’ll just keep reading” inventions.
There’s a fun story. Bad people do bad things and the good heroes have to put things right. There’s witty dialog and interesting characters (my personal favourite is the wonderful Myron). There are castles and dragons and elves and dwarves and horses and thieves and bows and arrows. Yes, it’s a lot of tropes (that seems to be the criticism from those few who are critical of the novel) but those tropes are put together in such a way as to say “here! Have fun! It’s all the stuff you love in one place.”
I read this over Christmas break and now that I think about it I’d say this book reminds me of those Rolo Pretzel Turtle candies I always make for the holidays. Yes, they’re just a little bite-size pretzel with a Rolo melted on top and a pecan pushed into the soft melty caramel. But they are delicious and addictive and you can’t eat just one. Theft Of Swords is like that. The ingredients are obviously straight-forward. But darn it…it’s delicious.
That deliciousness is why this book gets the rare juicy rating of FIVE BOOKWORMS . FIVE.