Series: Legends of Dimmingwood #1
Publisher: Self Published (November 28, 2012)
Length: 191 pages
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
I’m a book lover. More importantly, I am a lover of stories. Stories that draw me into the life of a stranger, sweep me away from my ordinary concerns, and carry me into a fantastic world full of mystery, danger, magic, and warriors with swords are my favorites. ( What can I say other than I read what I think is cool.) And I’m always looking for my next fix; a new fantasy flavor that lets me experience another high. That is how I discovered this e-book on Amazon as a free download. The cover looked cool. The story description sounded intriguing. So I took a chance on this unknown self-published novel.
Well, I’m done now, and I have to admit the beginning of Magic of Thieves — where armed warriors are slaughtering civilians and a family desperately flees before them — sucked me in, making me want to see who all these people were, why the killings were occurring, and what was to become of the young child involved. It really was a masterful start to the narrative.
After such a promising beginning though, the story just sort of fizzles like a dud firecracker. Our rescued heroine settling into her life with a band of forest outlaws, growing up the favorite child of the camp, and knowing that she has a shadowy past that she needs to rediscover. Her growth from innocent child to angsty teenage whiner really resembled that dud firecracker I mentioned earlier, because, like it, our heroines story hisses and smokes a little, but it never really explodes like it should. Let me explain what I think went wrong.
First, it takes a very masterful storyteller to pull off a good anti-heroes. Such characters balance between two worlds; they are a person whose actions scream “bad guy,” but whose motives or background explains away that vile conduct into something understandable. Old school anti-heroes like Elric of Melnibone and Thomas Covenant come to mind as prime examples, or even the darker Jorg Ancrath of The Broken Empire (though some might say Jorg never fully excuses his actions.) And this sort of protagonist is what the author was going for in Magic of Thieves, but she fails to find the perfect mixture of good/bad to make this female lead palpable. Instead our heroine becomes progressively sulkier and whinier; a hateful teenager who does nothing but insult her family/friends, blames everyone around her for every minor annoyance she experiences, and is more than willing to let them be harmed to further her ends. And unlike the anti-heroes above, there is no black sword, no leprosy, and no thorn scene to explain away why she is such a despicable piece of work. Nope, she is horribly self-centered, egotistical, and unlikeable just because she wants to be, it seems.
How exactly does one like that sort of person?
I couldn’t as the story progressed. Her questionable actions beginning to mount, and her snarky, angst ridden action continuing to grow. Before you know it, she was not an anti-hero in my mind but a villain in fair form who really needed to get over herself already.
Second, the story was pretty much a linear affair about our heroine growing up in the outlaw camp. Nothing much else seems to be happening except for her growing desire to escape the caring oversight of her benefactors. The only excitement in this rather dull existence is when she will get in a fight with a loved one or friend, break out in a whine-fest about how no one understands her, or decide to throw one of her loved ones into the teeth of destruction to save her golden ass from what is coming to her. By the end, it all read like a fantasy Twilight to me.
Lastly, the ending. Honestly, I love fantastical weapons like Sting, Frostmourne, Andúril, Stormbringer, or Roland Deschain’s six shooters. They add a special quality to their wielders. Set them apart in a place where magic is the norm. But they have to be special and attained in a memorable way. I mean, none of the weapons I mentioned above were found sitting around a barn or gained by accident. But in Magic of Thieves, our heroine stumbles upon a magic bow, which whispers into her mind how to kill people, and instantly she is a super-powered individual. It really ended this whole story on a poor note.
All in all, I did not enjoy this one very much. It didn’t speak to me at all. But that may be because I left my angst ridden teenage self behind a few decades ago. Perhaps others might find this heroine more to their liking, empathizing with her feelings and angst fueled rants. As for me, I don’t think I’ll be revisiting Dimmingwood, even though there really are some mysteries hidden there that could be mined for an interesting story.