Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review(s): "Among Thieves" and "Sworn in Steel" by Douglas Hulick

Amazon reviews suggested a book to me a while back: "Among Thieves" by Douglas Hulick. In my last batch of books I acquired, that was among them.

It was the first of my latest batch to read and... wow.

It is the tale of Drothe, a "Nose" among the Kin (slang for being a snoop/investigator for the criminal class of his homeland).

Drothe is a tolerable swordsman, a reasonably good thief, and has a fondness for stimulant seeds called armahni. He smuggles holy artifacts while serving as a spy (of sorts) for a local "Upright Man" (crime boss).

A client of his turns on him, stealing one of his artifacts, and things go sour really quickly.

Before long, Drothe is finding himself in the middle of a brewing gang war that endangers the Kin and has secrets that threaten the Empire in which he lives. His assets are his wits, his few friends (a blonde, grouchy, bodyguard who serves as his occasional lover), his semi-homicidal sister, and his best friend - a lethal swordsman named Degan.

Just when I thought I had a handle on what the book was about, Hulick took the story off in directions I wasn't expecting. I have to say it had me hooked up to the last page. I was so thrilled by it, that I ran out to a local Barnes & Noble to pick up the sequel: "Sworn in Steel".

Set three months after the insanity of "Among Thieves", Drothe is in a different place with his fortunes and not all of them good. Circumstances (mostly blackmail) have him and Fowler Jess (his lethal lover/bodyguard) going to the land of the Djann to find a friend of Drothe's so he can try to save his friends and himself.

As with "Among Thieves", Hulick quickly takes Drothe's tale and spins it into something bigger and deeper in his intricate and insanely-well-developed mythology.

Hulick does a fantastic job with his characters and his world-building. His "cant" spoken by the criminals of his world is apparently based on real-world criminal slang he researched and it adds a fantastic flavor to the series.

I can't wait for the next book. Argh! I seriously can't wait...

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