Friday, 8 September 2000

Juliet E. McKenna: The Thief's Gamble (1999)

Edition: Orbit, 1999
Review number: 608

The world of McKenna's fantasy debut is beginning to recover from the Dark Age caused by the fall of the Empire of Tormalin. In an attempt to rediscover lost secrets of ancient magic, Archmage Planin has sent out agents to buy up late empire documents and artefacts, some of which are still imbued with mysterious powers.

When expert housebreaker Livak overhears some talk of this, she steals an item from a local landowner, only to have the Archmage's agents recognise it and blackmail them into accompanying them to detach items they require from owners who refuse to part with them. (This is the gamble of the title, though she has very little choice.)

Events start to move swiftly when they discover that there is a group of mysterious strangers after the same objects - and that wholesale slaughter is just a means to an end for them.

The Thief's Gamble is an enjoyable fantasy thriller, with good characters, particularly the central Livak. Nothing in it is really original, but it is still a worthwhile read.

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