... a glorious overstuffed 'secondary world' fantasy that manages to balance the picaresque mode with that of the (far too often overdone) quest mode; the cosmic with the mundane; comedy with tragedy; the scatalogical with the ethereal; and unmitigated selfishness with noble dedication and altruism. It’s a rollicking ride from start to finish (a finish which is fully satisfying, but open-ended towards sequels), and it’s all contoured, colored and made tangible by the unique narrative voice of our anti-hero, Kinch ... fine worldbuilding ... Buehlman’s various systems of magic, one of which revolves heavily around living tattoos, are well constructed.
... a witty, tongue-in-cheek account of one seemingly unimportant thief caught up in the wider machinations of this Lord of the Rings meets Kings of the Wyld world ... Filled with magic, humour, and a slow boiling political plot, this entertaining tale explores the themes of war and the greed of men, while outlining Buehlman’s strength as a storyteller. Most importantly, this was a delight to read, armed with killer punchlines that will make you laugh aloud and bittersweet moments that will draw a jagged breath ... reads as a love letter to epic journey-based fantasy. As Kinch relays his various exploits in first person to the reader, we get a look into the wider world around him ... One of the main strengths of this novel is its characters ... a raucous laugh followed by a punch in the gut—it’s brilliantly wild and full of heart. If you’re looking for an entertaining fantasy tale that slyly delves into deeper topics, try this one.
Kinch has a lot of voice—you can easily picture him in a tavern somewhere relaying his tale to a group of pleasantly soused patrons ... Kinch, a blacktongued thief indebted to the Taker’s Guild, starts his story when he and a group of fellow thieves try to rob the wrong Ispanthian warrior. The story moves on from there ... Kinch telling us about that journey. And just like how some late-night tavern talk might go, Kinch’s descriptions aren’t for the pearl-clutching or faint of heart ... That’s not to say that Kinch isn’t above killing someone who has done him wrong, but it’s his moments of mercy that may make readers care about him as well, making the novel more than just a fun, swear-laden read ... Buehlman also weaves in an impressive amount of worldbuilding throughout the book ... also treats fantasy fans to a plethora of magical beasts and creatures ... There's an ending that has enough closure to make it feel like a standalone book, something that can be hard to find in the first of a trilogy. There’s still enough unresolved, however, to warrant another tale or two from Kinch, and I’m sure there will be readers aplenty waiting and ready for it.