1 Star Book Review
Book Review on Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick. Published by Roc, a division of Penguin.
It’s with great hesitancy that I quit reading a book before I finish it but Among Thieves simply failed to hook me. I read nearly 200 pages of the 414 page book. Every time I sat down to read, I found myself skimming huge passages just to try to get it over with. Finally I convinced myself to return the book to the library and start something new.
Among Thieves follows around the main character, Drothe, in a dangerous city called Ildrecca. Drothe works for a crime lord as a type of spy that lets his boss know the events and rumors that are happening around the city. When war threatens Drothe’s boss and his power, he is sent to uncover who is behind the whispered threats. Along the way, Drothe luckily survives a murder attempt that used illegal magic. Now Drothe tries to uncover who wants him dead, who is threatening his boss and trying to uncover mysterious markings that he took from a man he tortured in the opening scene of the book.
While all of the above story lines were interesting, I felt that they were not coming together fast enough. Halfway through the book, there were at least four separate plot lines and no hint of them coming together. I also had problems with the pace of the novel. Something was always happening, yes, but it was happening too slow. The book was overflowing with details, many of which I found to be unnecessary. After a while, I found myself skipping all the dialogue tags and details during a conversations. Even when I skipped all those words, I still understood what was happening. That kind of unnecessary description was a huge turn off.
Even with description riddling every page, I still didn’t get a good sense of the characters. The main character, Drothe, is the only one I would consider truly round and most of that comes from his background and not his present actions. Though I would consider him brave, harsh and curious in a need-to-know sort of way, I don’t know how else to describe him. One of my biggest issues with Drothe’s character was I didn’t know who he was loyal to. He was working for his boss but there was some serious tension there. On the side, he was working with several other people including his sister who married her way into royalty. There is also his best friend who takes a binding oath to protect and help him in the dangerous looming times. I want to say he is loyal to himself and only himself but I can’t even be sure of that. I never knew what to expect of him. It is good to keep a little mystery, but I prefer to have a strong hold on the characters and let the plot keep me guessing.
Element of Magic
I knew going into the book that it was a SciFi Fantasy novel but the elements of magic that were introduced throughout the story came about too slow. The only fantasy thing that is clear right away is Drothe’s “night vision.” His eyes automatically adjust to the dark, allowing him to see more clearly. It was hinted at that Drothe took this ability from someone but it was never explained how.
About a third of the way through the book, we are introduced to more magic that the world holds. When a hired man attempts to kill Drothe with illegal magic, we get our first introduction into the part that magic plays in this world. Because that information came so late, I kept wondering if there were more aspects of the world that would be revealed with time. When a story is set in a world so different from our own, the basic rules of that world need to be established early on in the story. Halfway through Among Thieves, I still did not have a good grasp on the world and what type of magical elements were possible. In this aspect, I believe Hulick failed.
Overall, the plot moved too slow, had too much detail and did not provide the reader with a solid grounding. I would not recommend this book to anyone. I’m hesitant to even award this book one star.
How I found this book: I recently joined a book club of all writers and this was the first novel chosen. I am looking forward to next month’s book (East of Eden by John Steinbeck) much more.
Posted on February 18, 2014, in Book Review and tagged 1 star, Among Thieves, book, book review, books, characterization, Douglas Hulick, fantasy, magic, one star, plot, scifi. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.