Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: "The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye," by Michael McClung

I read Michael McClung’s “The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids” a month or so ago when it won the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, and I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t wait to dig into the second volume, “The Thief Who Spat in Luck’s Good Eye.”

The second book is a bit of a different creature from the first as the stage and story get bigger.

Amra Thetys and Holgren, who we met in the first volume, make an odd couple. Holgren is a mage who dislikes the use of magic, and while Amra does seem to enjoy her work as a thief, she works by her own moral code.

When a giant reward is offered for anyone who can retrieve the secret of immortality from the ancient lost city of Thagoth, Holgren convinces the reluctant Amra to help him claim it, even though they're not really sure what they're looking for or where it is. If they can discover the location of the city, Holgren can open a gate to get them there well ahead of the other adventurers seeking the reward who will have to travel by more conventional means. They can claim the prize and be back before their competitors really get started.

As soon as the gate opens near Thagoth, though, things go terribly wrong for the thief and the mage, and they only get worse. Amra finds herself trapped between three beings with god-like powers, and none of them are trustworthy or even remotely sane.

I discovered belatedly that this book was the winner of the Del Rey first novel competition in 2002, but I’m not sure that I would have been as intrigued with Amra and the series if I had read this volume first. “The Thief Who Spat in Luck’s Good Eye,” to me, seemed a little less personal than “Trouble’s Braids.” This book opens up more potential, but I seemed to connect a little more with Amra when she was trying to unravel the mystery of a friend’s murder and avenge him. This one’s more of a quest/adventure story.

To clarify, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think the relationship that I was able to build with Amra in “Trouble’s Braids” was essential to enjoying “Luck’s Good Eye” as much as I did. The two books share the same fast pace, the same sense of fun, and of course, the same quirky and infinitely likeable main character. I probably would have liked “Luck’s Good Eye” without that introduction, but it certainly gave the story a little more depth and attachment for me.

The development in Amra is also interesting in this volume. While she seemed pretty unflappable in the first book, her confidence gets shaken a little here and she begins to realize that, perhaps, the solitary, disconnected life is not all it’s cracked up to be.

In “Luck’s Good Eye,” McClung shows us more of the world beyond Amra’s home in Lucernis and opens up bigger possibilities and stories. He also lets us know that Amra’s tale is far from done, despite appearances at the end of the book. I’m interested to see what kind of trouble comes her way in the third and upcoming fourth books.


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