Tyler Whitesides – The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Another review by Wiebe, who nicked my review copy for this title the moment it came in. The review is short and sweet, but he had his reasons for that.

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is good fantasy that differs from the norm, as it is all about the con, or ruse in this case. Tyler Whitesides story reminded me most of the British TV series Hustle or The Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch, without being derivative. All three feature a cast of gifted individuals who are so good at what they do, that they can pick and choose whom to con. That leads them to take from the wealthy and criminals, making them way more likeable than if they were fleecing old grannies. The Robin-Hood like approach to the characters makes it easier to like them. And boy, are the characters well written. With a good dose of gallows humour, and a fast pace I was thoroughly entertained. 

I will not divulge more than the back cover about the story, as it tends to spoil the reading of this type of book. With a story like this, it is most important that the ruse and events are consistent and you are not left with a deus ex machina ending. The author managed this incredibly well and managed put it in a very convincing and interesting world. As a bonus we get good characters and subsequently I read through this 729 page brick in two days.

For those who like the likeable “criminals” with an intricate plot like this, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For those that don’t but like fantasy books in general, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is easily the best fantasy-heist book I have read in years!

This book was provided for review by the publisher.

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