I found this one to be a bit of a mixed bag. The magic system was interesting and the characters were intriguing, but the story itself just did not live up to my somewhat lofty expectations.
Basically spirits inhabit everything. The ink in your pen, the door to your jail cell, that candle over there, your pants, and… I guess even your excrement? It’s not really clear where the spirits start and stop. Hmmm, I might be over-thinking that one a bit. Anyway, these spirits inhabit everything and you can perform magic by convincing these spirits to do stuff for you. You can make the fire spirit burn stuff or make the wind spirit blow things around and so on and so forth. The evil mages enslave them, the decent-enough mages convince the spirits to work for them, and then there is Eli Monpress. He charms spirits on the spot to do things for him with his tremendous ability to sweet-talk the spirits. And no, disappointingly there is no scene where he sweet-talks his faeces into doing anything (yet alone dancing). Missed opportunity.
Eli is a charming and witty thief/magician who preforms outlandish feats of thievery and crime. His main aim is to increase the bounty on his head and he has a friend called Josef helping him who is highly skilled with a blade and has an immensely powerful sword. At first you think these two will be the main show but then Miranda comes along with her massive dog and just craps on everything. She steals the show, but not really in a good way. She’s the boring goodie-good who is sent to take down Eli but then has to team up with him to defeat the King’s evil brother. I groaned when I discovered how prominently she was going to feature in Eli’s story – in fact she is basically the main character as I think she features in the story far more than Eli does.
The story itself is quite interesting but didn’t really capitalize on Eli’s abilities or the potential of the magic system. Maybe the other books in the trilogy do? For example, Eli is really built up in terms of his legendary ability to do mischief but in the end he doesn’t really get up to much in the way of grand scheming. You can also tell that he is meant to be really witty but the writing fails in this regard. Instead of having him say something clever he just winks and smiles cheekily and this is used multiple times by the author to try and communicate to you that this is what Eli is like. It has the subtlety of nails being tapped slowly into your eyeballs.
In the end the spirits felt a lot like Pokemon. You catch them and summon them. Some are more powerful than others. And then at the end there is the almighty great spirit (that’s the ultra rare sparkly Pokemon).
I enjoyed this book just enough to move on to the second one as I think there is some great potential. Here’s hoping things only get better from here!
Have you read this series? Do the books get better as the series goes on?