Amra Thetys #1: The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Blades by Michael McClung (#SPFBO Winner)

“They butchered Corbin right out in the street. That’s how it really started. He was a rogue and a thief, of course. But then, so am I. So when he got himself hacked up in front of his house off Silk Street, I decided somebody had to be made to pay. They thought that they could just sweep him away like rubbish. They were wrong.”

Amra Thetys is a thief with morals: She won’t steal from anybody poorer than she is. Fortunately, anybody that poor generally doesn’t have much worth stealing! But when a fellow thief and good friend is killed in a deal gone wrong, Amra turns her back on burglary and goes after something far more precious: Revenge.

And… we have a winner! The Great Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off has finished after a year and all the bloggers have provided their scores out of 10 and the highest ranked book was The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Blades. It’s an interesting book and it’s easy to see why it won, because I’m a big fan of Michael McClung’s novel, which was chosen to be the winner despite oddly not being the favourite finalist of all the bloggers involved, which was Ben Galley’s Bloodrush. Having been selected as a finalist from Elitist Book Reviews, The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Blades is a pretty impressive read.

It’s a sword and sorcery novel driven by revenge. Focusing on Amra Thetys as the lead character, a thief who doesn’t steal form anyone poorer than her, something that is made easier by the fact that the poor don’t have anything worth stealing, we follow her character as she turns her back on thieving following the death of her friend, Corbin – with a greater goal in mind. Revenge. It’s great to watch how Amra’s character develops over the two-hundred odd pages that we’re given, with the book moving along very quickly indeed. I’ve read more than a few blog-off novels that have relied upon exposition and info-dumping to tell us more about the world which usually comes at the cost of the pace but The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Blades avoids that approach and establishes it over the course of the narrative, giving readers a sense of what it might be like to live in Amra’s world, fleshing out on details such as the politics and history.

The characters are people who we can get behind and care about. As well as Amra, we also meet characters such as Holgren, a mage, and other interesting figures that keep the book fresh and full of variety.  It’s interesting to note that Amra isn’t your typical fantasy protagonist and whilst you may be worried at times about whether the author can successfully juggle all the supporting cast well enough (because there’s a lot of secondary characters here), rest assured, they never overstay their welcome and Amra’s plot is always at the heart of the story.

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Blades moves pretty quickly, and the fast pace will make it easy to get through. After all, I read this book pretty much in two sittings. It’s an accomplished debut that will appeal to fans of authors like Paul S. Kemp, Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick and more. I can’t wait to see what McClung comes up with next because I am invested in Amra’s storyline now and want to read the rest of her adventures, and it looks like the complete trilogy is already available so I’m going to have to get stuck into the sequels when I can, hopefully sooner rather than later.

VERDICT: 8/10

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