Herein is an epic adventure story. It begins curiously as a narrative like Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” with an orphan gang and the Fagin type of character. It develops into parallel plot lines that tell, in alternating chapters, about the main characters’ childhoods and their adult magical adventures. Yes, it is magical adventures. This fantasy novel uses supernatural phenomena and ominous “Magi” characters to drive the plot.
Beyond the intriguing fantasy elements, you’re drawn to these innocent rogues who survive on their wits and naturally bond together. The author skillfully sculpts his characters and artistically reveals, at a leisurely pace, how they mature. It is so interesting that as you read the adult adventures, at the same time you read about their childhood adventures, as if in a separate book. Yes two books in one! In alternating chapters you see naturally how these adults developed their strengths and weaknesses, traits and personal philosophies, loyalties and motivations, during their childhoods. These adventures are complete with tangled love stories. True loves are also a driving force in this epic.
I tremendously enjoyed the author’s subtle sense of humor, and excellent dialogue. Scott Lynch writes the most creative, and simply the most obstacles thrown in his characters’ paths. You’ll often find yourself asking, how in the world will they get out of this one? You’ll savor the discovery of each resolution, before being thrust forward into the next hurdle.
This book is the third in Scott Lynch’s series about this “gentlemen bastards” gang. It was over five years in the writing. The author has said about the series that he hopes “people realize is that I’m structuring it and playing it as a very long game.” In an interview, he elaborated, “the thing is, I typically discover that maybe 30 or 40 percent of the way into any big project – I think this is just natural to any writing project, and construction like this… opportunities that you did not previously realize existed will become apparent to you. New paths will open up. New character interactions will be possible. You can’t see all the details at the beginning. So there’s always room in the middle for different paths to be taken and different options to be sorted out, but as for where we end up, I always keep a very firm hand on that and I don’t stray very far from where I intended to.”
After this amazing journey, there is a final reveal that is fascinating. And then, just when you think you know all, a twist and then another and the ending is shrouded in new mystery. Is there a solution? There is a fourth book in the series, “The Thorn of Emberlain.”
And thereby hangs another tale . . . .
– By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. She’s enjoyed living in Edmonds for over 20 years. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.