Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. So far I’m 1-for-1, having really liked David Benem’s “What Remains of Heroes” and having an enjoyable, but ultimately unsatisfying experience with Matthew Colville’s “Priest.”
As luck would have it, I started reading Michael McClung’s “The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids” last week, and it was just named the winner of the contest on Saturday. The book received an average score of 8/10 from the 10 participating blogs with a high score of 9 and a low of 6.5.
As far as I’m concerned, “The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids” represents exactly what the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off was created to discover – self-published fantasy novels that are every bit as good as anything coming from the big publishing houses.
Amra Thetys has created a fairly comfortable life for herself as a thief in the city of Lucernis, but that changes when her friend Corbin drops an ugly golden toad idol on her doorstep. The statue is one of several items that her friend stole from a backwater temple, but the buyer has taken the others and stiffed him on payment. Corbin gives Amra the idol for safekeeping while he schemes to get his payment plus interest.
Things don’t go to plan, and Corbin ends up dead. That leaves Amra to try and figure out what exactly this ugly, cheap-looking thing is and who killed her friend so that she can exact her revenge. Along the way she’ll learn secrets about her friend, her world and herself.
McClung has created a very engaging character in the thief Amra Thetys. She drew me into the story immediately. She’s interesting and relatable and has a fun voice. He also surrounds her with a few more interesting and colorful characters that you will want to know more about.
McClung throws you right into the action with her, and the story doesn’t let up from beginning to ending. It’s a fast-paced, quick read that offers up plenty of fun and adventure.
As an appendix to the book, we get a short history that offers the reader a bit of background on the world that Amra inhabits. It’s from the viewpoint of Lhiewyn, “Sage of Lucernis, High Priest of Lagna the God of Knowledge (Deceased), Very Old Man.” It’s every bit as enjoyable as the book. Lhiewyn is fun and funny, and I hope we get to hear more from him as the series goes on.
I will warn you that McClung would make a really good drug dealer. The first hit’s free. Right now, you can download “The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids” for Kindle or the Kindle app free. The follow-up, “The Thief Who Spat in Luck’s Good Eye,” will cost you a few bucks, and the third a little more. It’s a sound business strategy for McClung, though, since once you finish this book, you won’t want to wait for your next fix.