Among Thieves: A Tale of the Kin (Tales of the Kin Series Book 1) by Douglas Hulick — 9780451463906 — ****
Time to Read: 9 Days
Drothe has been a member of the Kin for much of his life, nosing out artifacts and answers for his boss, one of the most notorious crime lords in Ildrecca. His knack for finding information and his well-guarded ability to see in the dark makes him good at his job despite his tendency to find trouble as well as tips, but when his boss sends him after a man who has been causing trouble in his territory, Drothe finds himself in an even worse predicament than he usually gets himself into (and out of). Tangled up in a hunt for an ancient book that has the potential to bring down the empire or put an end to the Kin, Drothe must find a way to survive and decide what side to take in the upcoming Kin war.
This was another of those advanced reader copies that I grabbed because it looked interesting, and I have to say that I’m glad I did, since I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it sitting on the shelf in the bookstore. Among Thieves is Douglas Hulick’s first book, but it certainly won’t be his last.
The plot is as unique as it sounds. Instead of following the stereo-typical fantasy character through the stereo-typical fantasy land as he tries to find the magical book that has the potential to put an end to the evil emperor, if it doesn’t kill him first, we follow Drothe through the slums of a dying city as he tries to find an old book because there are others who think he is after it and are trying to kill him so he won’t find it, and he’s decided that his best chance at survival is to get his hands on it and use it as leverage. The magic that’s involved is dark, dangerous and, in some cases, illegal. It isn’t treated with the typical hopeful awe, actually making things more dire instead of giving hope. The entire book is quite a twist on the stereo-type for the genre, and Douglas Hulick carries it out pretty well.
I didn’t like the main character. At least not at first. Same with the story. I didn’t dislike it, I just wasn’t sure about it. It was neat, and very well done, but I found it difficult to like a thief whose main interest was staying alive, and it started to sound like a book about gang wars in a magical city. Then the pieces started to come together, and Drothe (who narrates the book) started to see the whole picture. He started to realize that the mess he had gotten himself into was a lot bigger and more sinister than a petty war between two rival crime lords. This war went all the way to the top: To his boss’s boss, a war between two grey princes, and a powerplay that could bring out the end of the Kin if it didn’t rise their society into power to rival the empire.
Needless to say, the further I read, the more I enjoyed it, until I found myself at the end and wanting more. If you’re a fantasy fan looking for something new and different, give this one a try. Douglas Hulick is new, and his writing is a little rough around the edges, but that fits with the world his character is in and the story he is telling, making it perfectly imperfect.
For more on Douglas Hulick and his books, check out his website!
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