Among Thieves was an impulse buy one day when I was at Borders looking for some other books. I’d seen it on the “New Sci/Fi-Fantasy” shelf, and was intrigued by the cover. A quick read of the back enticed my curiosity further, but I still wasn’t sold yet. Juggling this book along with the books I’d originally been looking for, I sat down in a corner and began my usual process of elimination. When I’m in the market for a new book, I usually have three or four in mind. I compare them against each other, weighing such details as cost, length, writing style, and genre. In this case, Among Thieves was competing with three heavy-hitters: Two books from a favorite author of mine, and one based on my much-loved topic of pirates.
But upon reading the first thirteen pages, I was struck by how awesome the story was. With little effort it seemed, Douglas Hulick established a great protagonist, Drothe, and a fascinating setting, Ildrecca. The language feels authentic, and has an almost “noir” quality to it that you don’t often find in a fantasy adventure. There’s magic, there’s sword fighting, there’s intrigue, there’s true grit…Really, what doesn’t this story have?
To briefly summarize things, Drothe is a Nose–a name for a man who “noses” up delicate information and tricky artifacts–who is looking for a particular relic of value. The story literally opens up on a torture scene, though Drothe isn’t the one doing the torturing. (He doesn’t like it, but seems to have found himself needing to hire an “Agony Man” for this particular job.) Drothe is one of the Kin, an underworld of thieves, assassins, and other shady professionals. They are widespread throughout Ildrecca, a large and dangerous city under the rule of an emperor whose soul is split into three and has reincarnated perpetually for centuries. Any imperial relics from any of the emperor’s past incarnations is worth quite a bit on the street, and that’s what Drothe is trying to hunt down. Only things didn’t go as planned, thus where we come in.
Athel the Grinner, the man being tortured, eventually lets slip a single name, “Ioclaudia.” Drothe is confused by the name, but goes looking for answers, and what he finds instead leads to a struggle for his life and the fate of the Kin–possibly the entire empire.
There’s enough twists and turns in this book to keep your interest up throughout, and as I’ve stated, the characters and the setting are all superb. The action keeps an even pace, there’s the occasional humor, and plenty of suspense and drama. Yet it’s all well-balanced, all well-timed, and you are never made disappointed by the ride.
Though the book ended on a well-rounded note, it appears this is a part of a series (the series itself being called “Tales of the Kin”). I haven’t heard of a new book from Hulick, nor am I entirely certain if the series is meant to be continuing the adventures of Drothe, or if it’s a collection of loosely related adventures with different protagonists based in more or less the same setting. Either way, I wouldn’t mind more.
If you like fantasy adventures, noir crime stories, and conspiracy tales, then PLEASE read this book. Just read it. Now:
Buy Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick on Amazon now!