Among Thieves is the first book in Douglas Hulick‘s series Tales of the Kin. Drothe is the main character in Among Thieves and the book is told from his first person perspective. Drothe is a nose, among the Kin (think lower class caste), the person who hears from the Ears (spies/eavesdroppers) , avoids the Mouths (people with magical ability), and puts everything together like a puzzle and then reports to the boss. In Among Thieves, Drothe is thrown into the middle of political intrigue as the Grey Princes (middle class caste) begin to move pieces on the chessboard of life in relation to their views on the Emperor (take a wild stab here).
But when his boss orders Drothe to track down whoever is leaning on his organization’s people, he stumbles upon a much bigger mystery. There’s a book, a relic any number of deadly people seem to be looking for—a book that just might bring down emperors and shatter the criminal underworld.
A book now inconveniently in Drothe’s hands…
Among Thieves is mostly a historical novel about thieves and scoundrels who possess magic. Some of it is street magic pulled from the ether and some of it is imperial magic pulled from deeper places of the world. Hulick’s debut novel was intriguing, gripping, and a really good mystery set in a fun historical time period. I liked that the story was told from Drothe’s perspective, so we learned things as he learned them. I liked reading about a historical moment in time I haven’t read much about. I really liked the use of magic in this book. The universe seems to be well thought out and I was really happy with how the characters developed and moved through the story.
I have two slight complaints. I know, I know. One is that there is a lot of swashbuckling and magic handsing. OK that’s not a thing. What I mean is that Hulick takes a lot of time to describe every fight scene in great detail. I’m not so hung up on know who sliced whom and where exactly.
So I skip a few paragraphs.
Main character getting beat up.
Victor walks away thinking totally beat up main character.
Main character limps away.
Groovy. I told the fight scene in four sentences. This is why I write reviews and not sword fights. But my point remains. Every fight was similar, almost every fight ended with me not happy, and every fight was written in excruciating detail.
Now there are those who are going to read this review and be happy to read every sentence of those four fight paragraphs. Kudos. I can choose to dislike reading those paragraphs. I have to be the one to live through nightmares of snakes swarming my bed and choking me. If I don’t want to read about being knifed, then I’m not going to. This, does not make me stupid. It makes me opinionated. And sometimes it makes it difficult to fall asleep at night.
My second not really fault but oddity that kept happening was that I thought I was reading about a woman. Then, every time Drothe touched his beard I was like, Woa, but I’m a woman. Then I thought, maybe Drothe was going to actually be a woman living like a man to gain some status in society. But then I had balls being crushed in one scene and I was like, I’m definitely a man. But no, I’m a woman. Then I was convinced I was reading about how a man thinks from a female writer, but that is not the case. Sorry Hulick. I don’t know why this kept pulling me out of the story, but my brain is weird and this probably wont happen for another single person.
I really enjoyed this debut novel. I think it had all the elements of a great story. Characters that are multidimensional who discover new things and grow and learn. A mystery that only partially gets solved and goes deeper than I originally thought. History wrapped up in magic, as history generally is. A well thought out universe that will hopefully have great continuity in books to come. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
If you aren’t sure about this book, you can read an excerpt from first chapter for free here.