Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
Every now and then, I discover a book that's just plain fun. That's how this book started: simply fun.
The story is about an adventurer's guild. The older members go out and find young people with talent, and bring them back to train them to raid dungeons and steal gold from monsters (very D&Dish). The main character, Colm Candorly, had a talent for picking pockets, and though he was a good-hearted kid, his family was very large and very poor, so he was doing it for them. The guild's rogue mentor, Finn, discovered Colm and brought him in for training.
In many ways, this book had a very Harry Potter-ish feel to it. (And not just because it's YA -- you all know me, I read more YA than anything else.) The setting was just plain fun, it was a world I would have loved to be a part of. It went beyond HP though, both in quality of writing and realism of the characters.
There was so much I loved about this book. The writing was perfect. The editing was better than I had seen in a long time (not one single typo, grammar issue, or other error that I spotted! So rare!). I loved (LOVED LOVED LOVED) that there was so much going on under the surface; through most of the books, I knew there was something going on between the guild masters, but because the story was told from the young peoples' POV, we didn't see exactly what until the end.
Also, the story had the best opening sentence ever: "Colm Candorly had nine fingers and eight sisters." I don't think there's ever been a first sentence that ever caught my attention so strongly!
All through the book, I knew I was going to review it as "PERFECT!"... then something happened. It's not something the author did wrong (in fact, the amount it saddened me is a testament to how good the book was), it was just something that happened in the plot. Perfectly reasonable and fit, but it greatly disappointed me.
As I had mentioned, there were clues that something was going on between the adult characters. There was so much tension between Finn (master rogue) and Wolfe (master ranger). While I have probably the smallest slash goggles in the world, I suspected it was sexual tension. I loved the Finn character already, but that made it even more interesting.
Then Finn turned on the group.
I know. Rogue. Turning on the group. That should not have been a surprise to me. (I DID THE EXACT SAME THING EVERY TIME I PLAYED D&D AS A KID!) The hints had been there, I just interpreted them incorrectly.
But it still disappointed the living hell out of me. I had thought Finn was better than that.
(Amusingly, I got to the cliffhanger of him seeming to turn on the guild right before I had to go to work, and I spent the whole day distracted with trying to figure out how the author was going to get out of it, how he was going to make it so that Finn wasn't really bad!)
So that really colored the last 10% or so of the book for me. I stopped reading to enjoy it, and was reading to discover how Finn would be turned back to good. ...and then how he would be turned back to being alive.
And that spoiler reminds me of another great thing about this story: No character was black/white. Everyone was grey. Everyone had big honking flaws (Best Thing Ever!). It makes characters so realistic, I wish more authors would do that.
And the ending! Gah, (spoiler issue) aside, I loved the ending so much! PERFECT ending!
Even with my disappointment over that (spoiler issue), I would 100% recommend this book. It did every single thing right. Wonderful, fun read. Once my finances get straightened out, I'm looking forward to reading his other books as well.