Ahoy there me mateys! As ye all know I absolutely adore dragons and thievery. This book combines both! I saw it on Nikki @ thebibliophibian’s post and had to check it out.
So the story follows Ardor Benn, ruse artist extraordinaire, as he goes on his biggest heist yet – to steal the king’s crown! To accomplish this he must assemble a top-notch team. The team includes:
- Raekon Dorrel – he happens to be Ardor’s best friend and deals with logistics, mathematics, and brawn
- Quarrah Khai – a thief who works alone and doesn’t like interacting with others especially if she has to talk to them
- Elbrig Taut and Cinza Ortemion – “the crazies” who specialize in alternative identities, disguises, and costumes (seriously I love them!)
There are other side characters that help including forgers, harvesters, etc. But these folks are hired for specific side jobs. In addition there is a priest of Wayfarism, Isle Halavend, who be the man who hired Ardor for the heist. He believes there is a major threat to their island kingdom and only by going against his Order can he help save the world.
Okay sounds good so far right? Well where do the dragons come in? Aye, the dragons play a major role in terms of the magic system. So there be this stuff called Grit. Grit comes in several forms like Light, Heat, Barrier, Drift, Void, Visitation, etc. What be Grit? Grit is a powder made from materials like bone, wood, stone, dragon egg shell, etc. To get it, ye have to feed the materials to a dragon who then erm . . . poops it out and sets it on fire. Then a team of harvesters has to track down the hardened poo pile (while trying not to die) which is taken to a factory to be processed. Sounds fun right?
So dragon shells be needed for the rarest type of Grit of all – Visitation. This special Grit is used to summon Visitants who help save the world. Problem is the only dragon shell left is on the crown of the king. Hence Ardor Benn’s task.
This book really was amusing. I loved that the magic was based on powdered dragon poop. I also liked that physics and math had to be taken into account when using the Grit. I liked how versatile Grit could be and thought the author did an excellent job showcasing its uses I thought the main trio of Ardor, Quarrah, and Raekon were just lovely and enjoyed their banter. Their relationships do drive the novel and I loved watching them change and grow together over the course of the novel.
There were some downsides of the book in terms of plot and structure. I think most of this problems stemmed from how long the book was at over 700 pages. Even with that length, some of the more tactical parts of the heist were glossed over. There are some parts of the plot involving Grit that seemed to be unbelievable and ridiculous. They made me smile but really were silly. And the plot really lost focus after the crown had been stolen. The 80-87% of the book was the most difficult but the pace did pick back up again.
I thought that overall the debut was a good one and I am glad I read it. This book could be read as a standalone but I do see that the author plans on writing another book in the series. I am interested to see where he will take the story next. Arrrr!
Side note: Check out Matey’s Drew @ thetattooedbookgeek’s review for this book. He says “Ard is a charismatic lead, Grit an intriguing and well-implemented idea and so, even with my issues, I’d certainly consider reading future books in the series as there is promise and potential to be found within the pages of Whitesides debut adult fantasy work.”
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
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