David Tallerman – Crown Thief

Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.

But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable – and dangerous – object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp.

Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco’s chances of staying honest – or even just surviving – are getting slimmer by the hour.

Earlier this year Angry Robot published the first tale of Easie Damasco’s adventures, Giant Thief. It was a story that I unabashedly enjoyed, as it was a fun romp with some excellent protagonists. At the time I was pleased to discover that the second book in the series was due to be released later in the year. Cue October and the second book Crown Thief has now been released and I’m pleased to report it is as much fun as the first book and answers some of the questions and complaints I had with the first book.

One of the things I remarked upon in my review of Giant Thief was that the book was in effect one long chase scene, resulting in the reader seeing a lot of real estate in Easie’s world, but little depth to that which we encountered. And while Crown Thief has retained much of that travelogue-vibe, Easie and Alvantes barely stay anywhere for longer than a week, the places they visit and in some cases revisit gain some depth as Tallerman gives us more context for them and reveals some of the history of this world. I do hope though that in the next book the story sticks in place a bit more and it won’t be another long journey, because while I really loved the way this book’s trip gave Easie opportunity to grow, I think I’ve seen enough of the Castoval’s roads for a bit, a sentiment I think Easie would be quick to echo!

But despite that one sticking point, I had another blast with Easie and his companions. We are not just reunited with Tallerman’s wayward thief, but with Saltlick, Estrada and Alvantes as well. Where in Giant Thief Saltlick and Estrada were Easie’s main sidekicks, in Crown Thief Easie is soon left on his own with Alvantes and this turns out to be a great combination. Alvantes’ determination not to like or even respect Easie, because of his nefarious past, only seems to motivate Easie to prove him wrong and to do the right thing. Easie is forced to grow and change and he does so, even if not very gracefully, rather he stumbles into it and is at times flabbergasted at the changes in himself and what these make him do. I especially loved his indignation when he parts with his hard-earned *cough* coin to help other people with no gain to himself other than the satisfaction of doing the right thing. But it is not just Easie who learns new ways; both Alvantes and Saltlick have to adjust their habits. I particularly liked how Tallerman developed Saltlick’s character, but then I have a large giant-shaped soft spot for him. To me Saltlick stole every scene in which he featured.

Crown Thief‘s plot is pretty straightforward. Once Easie and his crew arrive back in Altapasaeda after defeating Moaradrid in the mountains, the point where we left them in the first book, and find all is not well in the Castoval, even if the invader was defeated. There are a few twists and some expertly hidden clues and a Chekhov’s Gun, that left me both amazed at the fact that I’d forgotten it and at how cleverly Tallerman placed it. But mostly it’s Tallerman throwing Easie into the most difficult situations he can think off and Easie either talking or sneaking his way out of them. And for all its straightforwardness, it is a heap of fun.

Easie’s second adventure is another winner for David Tallerman. It’s a high-octane romp, with perhaps just a tad less urgency than Giant Thief, but that’s made up for by the deepening of his characters and a slightly bigger reveal of his world’s inner workings. Who could resist the promise of a reformed rogue, a gruff guard captain, and even more giants than last time? I know I couldn’t. Crown Thief is a great follow up to Giant Thief and promises that Prince Thief, due next year, will be an explosive conclusion. I’ll be there to see how everything turns out and how Easie will get out of whatever Tallerman throws at him next time.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.

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