There is this growing trend of late for dark, gritty fantasy where all the darkness of the human soul is explored in depth. We have gone from a white knight in shining armour, to looking into some of the darkest souls of men. I don’t know if it’s at risk of becoming a cliché, but there are times when it makes things tiresome to the extreme. I don’t always want to read a story about how dark humans can be, I just want a good story.
The Spirit Thief, first instalment in the Legend of Eli Monpress series was certainly a breath of fresh air, and one of the first books in a long time to have made me laugh out loud this much.
The story takes place in the kingdom of Mellinor where Spiritualists are not welcomed. Melinor, ruled by King Henrith, is a small but prosperous kingdom that doesn’t tend to attract much attention from the rest of the world. That is, of course, until Eli Monpress, the greatest thief to have ever existed, decides to steal Melinor’s king.
To complicate matters further, Spiritualist Miranda Lyonette has been sent by the Spirit Court to stop and apprehend Eli before he had can steal Melinor’s treasure that also happens to be a very powerful artefact. What she doesn’t know, is that Eli has no interest in Gregorn’s Pilar and the power held within, but that the one who does is a far more dangerous man than Eli could ever prove to be.
With Henrith gone, his banished elder brother Renaud, sees his perfect opportunity to return. Having been sent away from the kingdom for being a spiritualist, Renaud has but one thing in mind: getting the throne back and using Gregorn’s Pillar to make himself the most powerful person from Melinor to the Spirit Court, even if it means enslaving every spirit in his wake. But to his brother’s court, he appears to be but a brother who worries for his sibling and wants what is best for the kingdom.
But Miranda sees the truth behind his intentions and isn’t about to let it all happen. With the help of her ghosthound, Gin, she seeks out Eli to demand his help: after all, he’s the one who started all this, isn’t he? With the help of Eli’s companions–the swordsman Josef, and the mysterious Nico–they must find a way to stop Renaud, whilst avoiding the swordsman Coriano who is after Josef’s Heart of War, an awakened blade.
As an anime fan, I couldn’t help but think that the Spirit Thief would have made one hell of an anime. With a delightfully witty, charming, and lovable main character, and a bunch of side characters that are just as wonderful, The Spirit Thief is a fun and enjoyable read. It has magic, epic sword fights, secrets, mysteries, and one of the most impressive ‘final battles’ that I have read in a long time. (If it had been a video game, you wouldn’t have wanted to go into that one unprepared!)
Aaron’s writing fits her main character like a glove: it’s witty and charming, and enjoyably leads you through the adventures of her characters. Never has a book possessed so many lines that have genuinely made me laugh to the extent that I had to stop reading.
For those who like their fantasy only dark and gritty, this isn’t going to be for you, but for those, like me, who enjoy good characterisation, efficient storytelling, and a good dose of well placed humour, The Spirit Thief is the book for you. It has everything a fun fantasy adventure should have, and more, and I look forward to reading through the other books in the series!